Watch: Democrats Oppose Amendment To Recite Pledge Of Allegiance; Label Republicans "Insurrectionists"

Watch: Democrats Oppose Amendment To Recite Pledge Of Allegiance; Label Republicans "Insurrectionists".....»»

Category: worldSource: nytFeb 3rd, 2023

Hedges: Lynching The Deplorables

Hedges: Lynching The Deplorables Authored by Chris Hedges via The Chris Hedges Report, There is little that unites me with those who occupied the Capitol building on Jan. 6. Their vision for America, Christian nationalism, white supremacy, blind support for Trump and embrace of reactionary fact-free conspiracy theories leaves a very wide chasm between their beliefs and mine. But that does not mean I support the judicial lynching against many of those who participated in the Jan. 6 events, a lynching that is mandating years in pretrial detention and prison for misdemeanors. Once rights become privileges, none of us are safe.  Image: Executing the Law - by Mr. Fish The U.S. legal system has a very sordid history. It was used to enforce segregation and legitimize the reign of terror against Black people. It was the hammer that broke the back of militant union movements. It persecuted radicals and reformers in the name of anti-communism. After 9/11, it relentlessly went after Muslim leaders and activists with Special Administrative Measures (SAMs). SAMs, established by the Clinton administration, originally only applied to people who ordered murders from prison or were convicted of mass murder, but are now used to isolate all manner of detainees before and during trial. They severely restrict a prisoner’s communication with the outside world; prohibiting calls, letters and visits with anyone except attorneys and sharply limit contact with family members. The solitary confinement like conditions associated with SAMs undermine any meaningful right to a fair trial according to analysis by groups like the Center for Constitutional Rights and can amount to torture according to the United Nations. Julian Assange faces SAMs or similar conditions should he be extradited to the U.S. The Classified Information Procedures Act, or CIPA, begun under the Reagan administration, also allows evidence in a trial to be classified and withheld from defendants. The courts, throughout American history, have abjectly served the interests of big business and the billionaire class. The current Supreme Court is one of the most retrograde in decades, rolling back legal protections for vulnerable groups and denying workers protection from predatory corporate abuse. At least 1,003 people have been arrested and charged so far for participation in events on Jan. 6, with 476 pleading guilty, in what has been the largest single criminal investigation in U.S. history, according to analysis by Business Insider. The charges and sentences vary, with many receiving misdemeanor sentences such as fines, probation, a few months in prison or a combination of the three. Of the 394 federal defendants who have had their cases adjudicated and sentenced as of Feb. 6, approximately 220 “have been sentenced to periods of incarceration” with a further 100 defendants “sentenced to a period of home detention, including approximately 15 who also were sentenced to a period of incarceration,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. There are six convictions and four guilty pleas on charges of “seditious conspiracy.” This offense is so widely defined that it includes conspiring to levy war against the government on the one hand and delaying the execution of any law on the other. Those charged and convicted of “seditious conspiracy” were accused of collaborating to oppose “the lawful transfer of presidential power by force” by preventing or delaying the Certification of the Electoral College vote. While a few of the organizers of the Jan. 6 protest such as Stewart Rhodes, who founded Oath Keepers, may conceivably be guilty of sedition, and even this is in doubt, the vast majority of those caught up in the incursion of the Capitol did not commit serious crimes, engage in violence or know what they would do in Washington other than protest the election results.  Joseph D. McBride went to law school because his brother was serving a 15-year sentence for a crime he did not commit. He provided free legal advice as a law school student to those encamped in Zuccotti Park in New York City during the Occupy movement. Following law school, he worked as a public defender and in the Legal Aid Society. He represents several of those charged in the Jan. 6 incursion, including Richard Barnett. Barnett was photographed in Nancy Pelosi’s office with his leg propped up on her desk. Barnett was convicted by a federal jury, which deliberated for two hours, on eight counts, including disorderly conduct in the Capitol building. He faces up to 47 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 3. “The post 9/11 model is being applied to American citizens,” McBride told me when I reached him by phone. “That model is the 19 hijackers. Everyone who is a religious Muslim is a suspect for the next 20 years. They should be waterboarded. They should be put in fucking jail and left in Guantanamo Bay. Lock them up. Throw away the key. Because they are psychopath extremists who believe in Allah and we don’t have time for that. They’re a threat based on who they are, what they look like, what they believe in. When the truth is, the vast majority of these guys don’t do drugs, don’t drink alcohol, they have five kids and they live pretty good lives. But because of the label of ‘terrorism’ and ‘Osama Bin Laden’ and ‘al-Qaeda’, everybody who is a Muslim is now a target. If we get on a plane next to one of these people, we get nervous about it because that’s how much it’s ingrained in us. The same thing is happening, except it’s being applied to a new group of people, primarily white Christians, Trump supporters, for now.”  “Power is going to change hands,” he warned. “The Democrats are not going to be in power forever. When power changes hands, that precedent is going to travel with it. If somebody else from the other side gets in and starts to target the people who are in power now, their families, their businesses, their lives, their freedom, then it’s over. America goes from being a free democracy to a tribalist partisan state. Maybe there’s not ethnic-cleansing in the streets, but people are cleansing each other from the workplace, from social media, from the banking system and they’re putting people in jail. That’s where we’re headed. I don’t know why people can't see what’s on the horizon.” The Jan. 6 protestors were not the first to occupy Congressional offices, including Nancy Pelosi’s office. Young environmental activists from the Sunrise Movement, anti-war activists from Code Pink and even congressional staffers have engaged in numerous occupations of congressional offices and interrupted congressional hearings. What will happen to groups such as Code Pink if they occupy congressional offices with Republicans in control of the White House, the Congress and the courts? Will they be held for years in pretrial detention? Will they be given lengthy prison terms based on dubious interpretations of the law? Will they be considered domestic terrorists? Will protests and civil disobedience become impossible? McBride said those who walked to the Capitol were not aware that the Department of Justice had created arbitrary markers, what McBride called an “imaginary red line that they draw around the Capitol grounds.” Anyone who crossed that invisible line was charged with violating Capitol grounds. He railed against the negative portrayal of the protestors in the media, the White House and Democratic Party leadership, as well as a tainted jury pool in Washington composed of people who have close links to the federal government. He said Change of Venue motions filed by the defense lawyers have been denied. “The D.C. jury pool is poisoned beyond repair,” McBride said. “When you just look at what the January 6  Committee did alone, never mind President Biden’s speeches about ‘insurrectionists,’ ‘MAGA Republican extremists’ and all this stuff, and if you just consider the fact that D.C. is very small, that people who work in the Federal Government are all by definition, kind of victims of January 6 and what happened that day, their institutions and colleagues were ‘under attack.’ How can anybody from that town serve on a jury pool? They can’t. The bias is astounding.” Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon shaman” who was adorned on Jan. 6 in red, white and blue face paint, carried an American flag on a spear-tipped pole and wore a coyote-fur and horned headdress, pleaded guilty to obstruction. He was sentenced to more than three years in prison. Chansley, who says he is a practitioner of ahimsa, an ancient Indian principle of non-violence toward all living beings, was not accused of assaulting anyone. He was diagnosed in prison with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.  Guy Wesley Reffitt, who did not enter the Capitol building, nevertheless was sentenced after three hours of deliberations to seven years and three months in prison on five charges, including “two counts of civil disorder, and one count each of obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a firearm, and obstruction of justice.” His obstruction of justice charge came from “threatening” his two teenage children to prevent them from reporting him to law enforcement. Daniel Ray Caldwell, a Marine Corps veteran, who sprayed a chemical irritant at a group of police officers outside the Capitol and entered through the Senate Wing doors where he remained inside for approximately two minutes, was sentenced to more than five years in prison. He spent, like many who have been charged, nearly two years in pretrial detention. Even the charges against Rhodes, who faces 20 years in prison, and other militia leaders of groups such as the Proud Boys are problematic. The New York Times reported that, “despite the vast amount of evidence the government collected in the case — including more than 500,000 encrypted text messages — investigators never found a smoking gun that conclusively showed the Proud Boys plotted to help President Donald J. Trump remain in office.” The government has relied on the testimony of a former Proud Boy, Jeremy Bertino, who is cooperating with prosecutors to build an “inferential case” against Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola, the five defendants in the current Proud Boy case. Bertino, on cross-examination, admitted that in previous interviews with the government, he repeatedly told investigators that the Proud Boys did not have an explicit plan to halt the election certification and that he did not anticipate acts of violence on Jan. 6. The FBI had as many as eight informants in the Proud Boys that included its leader, Enrique Tarrio, during the storming of the Capitol, raising the very real possibility of entrapment. “They’re changing the laws,” McBride said. “Look at the 1512 charge, the obstruction charge. That was used for document shredding in Enron. It has no applicability to Jan. 6 whatsoever. They took it. They repurposed it. They weaponised it against these people and made it impossible for them to defend themselves. When you look at the civil disorder charge, they are saying that if January 6 was one big civil disorder, and if you had any type of interaction with a police officer that day that may or may not have caused the police officer to step away from his duties for a moment, you can go down with civil disorder and get five years in jail.” Ryan Nichols, a Marine Corps veteran, is living under house arrest in Texas after nearly two years in pretrial detention, much of it in solitary confinement, in Washington, D.C and Virginia jails. He faces five felony and three misdemeanor charges. Prosecutors say Nichols assaulted officers and obstructed an official proceeding. He has been ordered to “stay away from Washington, D.C.” except for business related to his case, according to court documents. He has had to submit to “location monitoring technology” and is denied access to the internet and his phone except to perform functions related to his case. He cannot have contact with anyone involved in the Jan. 6 events, including co-defendants. Nichols must remain in his home 24 hours a day except for medical and court appointments. He is permitted to attend Sunday church services at Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, Texas. He is facing 20 years in prison. He is scheduled to go to trial on March 27. I spoke with Bonnie Nichols, Ryan’s wife, by phone from their home in Longview, Texas.  Ryan was arrested on Jan. 18, 2020. The FBI surrounded their house at 5:30 am in armored vehicles. They unscrewed the bulbs from flood lights and cut the wires to the couple’s security cameras before kicking in the front door. The couple and their two children, then aged 4 and 6, were at Bonnie’s parents house during the raid. The FBI confiscated their weapons, electronics and documents, including Social Security cards.  “We wanted to cooperate,” she said. “We didn’t know anything was wrong. They asked Ryan to come in for questioning. Ryan went and turned himself in. They arrested him and I didn’t see him again for over a year and a half.” Ryan, who had no criminal record, ran a nonprofit called Rescue the Universe where he carried out search-and-rescue operations after natural disasters. He was denied bail. He was sent to a holding facility in Grady County Oklahoma for two months before being flown to Washington, D.C. where he was met by some two dozen U.S. Marshals. His feet were shackled. His arms were shackled to a chain around his waist. He was placed in long term solitary confinement and denied video calls or visitation from his family, including his children. He was denied access to his trial documents for nearly a year and prohibited from attending religious services in the jail. Ryan, whose most serious offense appears to be incendiary rhetoric calling for a “second American revolution,” spent nearly 22 months in solitary confinement. Depressed, struggling to cope with the physical and psychological strain of prolonged isolation, he was eventually placed on suicide watch. He was strapped to a bench in a room where a light was never turned off. Guards would periodically shout through a window “Do you feel like killing yourself?” Those on suicide watch who said  “yes” remained strapped to the bench. Those who said “no” were sent back to their cells. Ryan was often prohibited from having nail clippers — the guards told him he could chew his toenails down — or getting a haircut unless he agreed to be vaccinated for COVID-19. When Ryan appeared before Judge Thomas Hogan, who finally released him on Nov. 23, 2022, he told Ryan, with his long unkempt hair and fingernails, that he looked like Tom Hanks in the film Cast Away. Every night, for the two years Ryan was held in solitary confinement, Bonnie and her two small boys would say prayers that Ryan would one day come home. She said she and her family have received numerous death threats. “Ryan deals with insomnia,” Bonnie said of her husband. “He deals with extreme anxiety, depression and paranoia. He will not even go outside of his backyard because he’s scared that if he goes outside, that they’re going to take him back to jail. He has liver issues from the food that he ate because they fed him baloney sandwiches and trash while he was in D.C. He’s having a lot of medical issues. He also has lower testosterone than a 60-year-old man because he wasn’t able to have any sunlight. His vitamin D levels are low. The list goes on and on. This man does not sleep at night. He has nightmares. He whimpers at night in his sleep because he has dreams that he's back in D.C. I mean, he’s a mess. This is the result of what has happened to him. He has vision loss. He doesn’t see as good as he used to.” Ryan’s family, like many families of those charged, are struggling financially. Bonnie said their savings are gone. She and Ryan are heavily in debt. She has set up a fundraising page here. “We are God-loving patriots,” she said. “Who’s going to be next? It’s not about Republican or Democrat or white or Black, Christian, or Muslim. We are all children of God. We are all U.S. American citizens. We are all entitled to our constitutional rights and freedom of speech. We can all come together and agree on that, right?” The cheerleading, or at best indifference, by Democratic Party supporters and much of the left to these show trials will come back to haunt them. We are exacerbating the growing tribalism and political antagonisms that will increasingly express themselves through violence. We are complicit, once again, of using the courts to carry out vendettas. We are corroding democratic institutions. We are hardening the ideology and rage of the far-right. We are turning those being hounded to prison into political prisoners and martyrs. We are moving ever closer towards tyranny. The Chris Hedges Report is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Tyler Durden Mon, 03/06/2023 - 22:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMar 6th, 2023

Violence, chauvinism, and no masturbation allowed: "We Are Proud Boys" details the 4 tiers of membership in the extremist group

The new book, "We Are Proud Boys," explains what Proud Boys need to do in order to advance within the conservative organization. A member of the Proud Boys wearing a t-shirt that reads "death to liberals" stands with other Proud Boys in Freedom Plaza during a protest on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC.Stephanie Keith/Getty Images A new book, "We Are Proud Boys," details the four tiers of membership in the extremist organization. Author Andy Campbell explains tiers involving tattoos, breakfast cereals, and a ban on masturbation. The top Proud Boy tier requires an arrest or a "serious violent fight," per founder Gavin McInnes. When Gavin McInnes, the far-right Canadian shock jock, announced the formation of the Proud Boys back in 2016, the stated aim was defending the historical contributions of white men and their champion, former President Donald Trump.Its members identify as "Western chauvinists" and they see their enemy as "antifa." Chapter leaders mimic the operational security language of a military organization at war and celebrate violent clashes with leftists in the streets.Over the past six years, Proud Boys have shown up at Black Lives Matter demonstrations and marched through liberal cities, serving as the self-styled vanguard of the MAGA movement. They were on the front lines of the January 6 insurrection, its leaders collaborating with paramilitary groups such as the Oath Keepers in an effort to halt the certification of the 2020 election, and several have since been charged with offenses ranging from illegal gun possession to seditious conspiracy.But as journalist Andy Campbell details in his new book, "We Are Proud Boys," while the group ultimately takes itself very seriously, mimicking the operational security language of a military organization, complete with tacticial units on the prowl for trouble at street protests, it is essentially a drug-and-drink fueled fraternity based on a cult of personality and cultural grievances; still potentially dangerous, as evidenced by its arrest record, but also cringe-worthy.That is perhaps no more clear than in the rituals required for members to advance within the organization.How a man becomes a boyBased on extensive research and information gleaned from a left-wing informant within the organization, Campbell, a senior editor at HuffPost, details four tiers of membership within the Proud Boys. The first is easy enough: a simple pledge."At the first degree, a new recruit has to declare allegiance to the Proud Boys, often and at every opportunity, whether it's online or in his personal life," Campbell writes.The organization is steeped in white supremacy, demanding that its members commit to the belief that European civilization was, remains, and will always be superior to all others. "The Proud Boys' actions," notes the Southern Poverty Law Center, "belie their disavowals of bigotry: Rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists."Unlike similar far-right groups (or its "antifa" foes), this is also not a group or political tendency that wishes its followers to remain anonymous. In fact, members, including small business owners, have openly boasted of their membership, sometimes managing to obtain press coverage that paints them as simple, color-blind patriots.While Proud Boys are encouraged to boast of their membership, obfuscation is an essential part of being in the group. Although some key leaders have been outed as neo-Nazis, the group as a whole tends to avoid explicit racism, trumpeting the fact that some of its members are indeed non-white (women, however, are not allowed).But as Campbell notes, racial supremacy is at its core. You don't have to be white to be Proud Boy, per its founder, but you do have to know your place."If you're Black or Hispanic, whatever, I don't really care," McInnes said on one of his online broadcasts, as reported by Campbell. "I'm all about the culture. Now, part of that is recognizing that white males seem to be the ones who made it, and respecting that, but it doesn't mean you're not invited to the party."McInnes did not respond to a request for comment sent to his media company.Western chauvinism as white prideProspective Proud Boys, to be initiated into the group's first tier, pledge allegiance not to white supremacy, per se, but to what is cast as white culture: "I am a Western chauvinist and I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world."As the informant told Campbell, this ceremony can be impromptu, taking place in the middle of a drunken march through a city, and entails a recruit — who has gained sufficient trust by attending public events — and a superior within the organization facing each other, raising their right hands and reciting the oath in a call-and-response manner. With that, a recruit becomes a member.To get to the second tier, a Proud Boy who is deemed ready by leadership stands in the middle of a circle, surrounded by their cadre, who then start pummeling him — Campbell's source got a cracked rib — with the violence also ceasing when the man in the middle can recite the names of five breakfast cereals, ostensibly to test their coolness under pressure. "If the embarrassment of the punching ceremony isn't enough," Campbell writes, "a second-degree Proud Boy is also expected to subscribe to one of the truly more bizarre facets of the group. This is the 'no wanks' policy outlined by McInnes: he's only allowed to masturbate once a month, and he's otherwise only able to ejaculate when he's 'within one yard of a woman with her consent.'"From there, things "get permanent," Campbell writes. The third tier: "The recruit must get a Proud Boys tattoo or brand," with the former being far more popular.At this point, the initiation into various tiers could be mistaken for fraternity rites. But while much of the group's antics and internal policies are laughable, there is still danger in groups of intoxicated, radicalizing men who believe they are engaged in a war against a godless enemy. The final tier: violenceMcInnes himself explained the fourth and final tier of Proud Boys members in a 2017 appearance on Joe Rogan's podcast (since deleted by Rogan's publisher, Spotify): "Fourth degree," he said, "you get arrested or get in a serious violent fight for the cause."That violence is supposed to be in self-defense. But part of being a Proud Boy is looking for a fight — and apparent efforts to obtain that fourth-tier have led some to prison. Outside a Manhattan venue in 2018 where, inside, founder McInnes was venerating a far-right Japanese assassin, members of the Proud Boys assaulted counter-protesters outside. Two were later convicted in state court of "attempted gang violence," among other charges.The Proud Boys' former, formal leader, Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, has also been charged with engaging in a seditious conspiracy on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrections, members of the Proud Boys front and center, picked fights with police in an effort to overturn the 2020 election, their anti-fascist opponents nowhere in sight."Our client is looking forward to his day in trial and showing a complete picture of all the pieces of evidence the government intends to show," Tarrio's attorney Nayib Hassan told Insider.Tarrio was not in DC the day of the attack but, prosecutors allege, helped direct his fellow Proud Boys' actions from afar. He has proclaimed his innocence (another former leader, Jeremy Bertino, recently pleaded guilty).McInnes, meanwhile, has managed to avoid the sort of legal trouble his followers now face. He ostensibly cut ties with the group he founded back in 2018, following the arrests outside his Manhattan speech. His own purported "arrest," during a live broadcast in August, turned out to be a publicity stunt: the man who founded a far-right street gang was not in jail, but vacationing in the south of France.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 14th, 2022

Fargo School Board Reinstates Pledge Of Allegiance After National Public Outcry

Fargo School Board Reinstates Pledge Of Allegiance After National Public Outcry Authored by Jeff Louderback via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), After criticism from conservative lawmakers and backlash from citizens nationwide, the Fargo Board of Education on Aug. 18 voted to reverse course on its previous week’s decision to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before its meetings. New U.S. citizens recite the Pledge of Allegiance during their naturalization ceremony at George Washington's residence in Mount Vernon, Virginia, on July 4, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images) On Aug. 9, seven of the board’s nine members, including four newcomers who took office in June, voted to cancel a previous board measure that was instituted in March before the election. Board vice president Seth Holden said at the Aug. 9 meeting that the Pledge of Allegiance was contrary to the district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities. “Given that the word ‘God’ in the text of the Pledge of Allegiance is capitalized, the text is clearly referring to the Judeo-Christian God, and therefore, it does not include any other faiths such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism,” Holden said, adding that this made the pledge of allegiance a “non-inclusionary act.” Reciting the pledge is a “non-inclusionary act” and there is text within the pledge that is “simply not true,” Holden added. “The statement that we are ‘one nation under God’ is simply an untrue statement,” Holden said. “We are one nation under many or no gods.” Tracie Newman, who is board president, recommended that a member recite “a shared statement of purpose that would bring us all together” at the start of the meetings instead of the pledge, adding that it would be “unifying.” “I’m just not sure that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is a useful way to begin every one of our board meetings,” Newman said at the Aug. 9 meeting. North Dakota’s Republican Party called the board’s Aug. 9 vote “laughable” and an “affront to our American values.” Republican State Sen. Scott Meyer told North Dakota media outlets last week that he would start work on a school voucher bill draft to allow public money to pay for private school tuition. “These positions like by the Fargo School Board just don’t align with North Dakota values,” he said. “The logical solution is to just give parents that option to help educate their kids.” Robin Nelson was one of two board members who voted on Aug. 9 to keep the pledge. “It was a very easy ‘no’ vote from me from the get-go. I knew right away it would be controversial,” Nelson told Fargo’s Valley News Live. “Our focus should be on our great students and teachers and education, but this is going to detract from that and really shed more negative publicity on the Fargo school district, and quite frankly, we don’t need that.” Nelson’s words were proved correct. The decision prompted an outcry across the country, which led the board to hold the Aug. 18 meeting to discuss reinstating the pledge. “That is perpetuating Critical Race Theory, which is against the law in North Dakota,” Fargo parent Jake Schmitz told Fox & Friends last week following the initial vote to ban the Pledge of Allegiance. “The next logical step in the progression is [they’ll] want to remove it from schools because it’s a non-inclusionary act which is a bunch of [expletive].” At the special meeting on Aug. 18, the board discussed the volume of angry emails and voicemails directed at members. Nyamal Dei, a refugee from war-torn Sudan, was among those who received messages from irate citizens. Dei was one of the seven members who voted on Aug. 10 to eliminate the pledge. At the special meeting, she was the only board member to vote no on reinstatement. “We won’t be rewarding our children or students in our district for acting in this way,” Dei said at the special meeting. “But know that this moment will pass. Let’s get back to the work that we are elected to do and that is to find a solution to our teacher shortages, mental health issues, and academic achievement for our students.” Greg Clark, who also serves on the board, said that less than 20 percent of the “angry messages” were from Fargo residents. He admitted that his vote to reinstate the pledge was influenced by people who do not live in the district. “But I hope you’ll forgive me because I truly believe it is in the best interest of our schools to do so,” Clark said. “The disruptions and the threats must end so that we can have a successful start to our school year.” Holden voted to bring back the pledge, but not before expressing reluctance. “Do you concede the battle to win the war?” Holden said. “I’m also concerned about what might happen to this board in the future because we’re going to have to probably be prepared to take more heat than we normally do for decisions that we make because that there may be a perception of success.” Read more here... Tyler Durden Sat, 08/20/2022 - 19:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 20th, 2022

The Frogs Will Boil Themselves

The Frogs Will Boil Themselves Authored by Jeff Thomas via, There’s a well-known old fable that describes a frog being boiled alive. It states that if a frog is dropped in boiling water, it will hop out. But if it’s placed in lukewarm water, it will be comfortable. Then, if the heat is turned up slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be boiled to death. In political terms, this translates into a slow increase, say, the slow rise of taxation or the gradual removal of freedoms. But there’s another way to boil the electorate of a country: have them become willing participants in their own demise. This method is a common practice in many countries, particularly the US. Americans have repeatedly been conned into begging for their second amendment rights to be diminished. The method is to make use of the media to shine a light on the horrific murder of innocents through the use of firearms. In recent years, this effort has been ramped up through regular senseless massacres of people, particularly children, in public places, such as schools and movie theatres. Whether or not these incidents are actually created by the ruling elite is a moot point. What matters is that their proliferation has been extremely effective in providing the media will the fodder to repeatedly ask, “When is the Government going to make the possession of guns illegal so that the killing will stop?” Many citizens are wary of such suggestions, but countless others quickly take the bait and demand that the Government “do something.” Eventually, this becomes a point of pride for many citizens — a badge of righteousness — for standing up for those who have been victims. Through such efforts, the US constitution has slowly lost its ability to serve as a limitation to Government power. A proliferation of laws that redefine what the Constitution means has, over time, eviscerated the Constitution. Not surprisingly, those who support this effort are largely liberal, which creates a backlash from those who are conservative and vehemently oppose any erosion of the Constitution. Those who are liberal may reinforce their beliefs by watching propaganda networks on television and regularly pump up the dangers of the Constitution. Likewise, conservatives have their propaganda network, which can be counted on to reinforce their views. Whichever side Americans take on such issues, they would be wise to keep an eye out for what may be the next development in this wrangle. Those who dutifully watch the liberal “news” networks may soon see pundits despairing that the failings of the aging Constitution must be dealt with. It must be updated if it is to serve changing needs. After all, the Founding Fathers cannot be blamed that they didn’t foresee the existence of AK-47s. Surely, it falls to the present administration to “correct” the failings of the well-intentioned old document. Conservatives, of course, are likely to be more cautious, but what we may see is for the pundits on their favoured network to express frustration that the Left is seeking to erode traditional values and must, at some point be stopped, or the country will be destroyed. There can be no question that the Founding Fathers were correct — that unless the Constitution and its amendments are not clarified once and for all as to what they were meant to express, American liberty is at stake. Americans, like citizens of most countries, love a good battle between good and evil. Every four years, a massive three-ring circus is staged in which the political leader is decided and both sports teams – Democrats and Republicans – go all out in seeking a victory on the playing field. However, in most cases, neither candidate is trustworthy or qualified for the job, but this is of no importance. The essence of the battle is not to select a wise and capable leader but to win. Similarly, once the populace has been wound up on both sides to believe that only a pitched battle can “re-establish the Constitution” or “modernise the Constitution,” the battle shall be met. At present, this eventuality may seem mere speculation. But then, the media campaign has not yet begun. At present, all that exists is pundits in the media bemoaning the injustice of the present situation. What is needed is the prediction of pundits that, whatever side an individual takes on the issue, his side is sure to win. On the liberal side, social warriors must come out daily in the media with demands for change and the certainty of success once the battle has begun. On the conservative side, pundits need to guarantee that the battle will be won once and for all, but that the situation is in dire need of immediate attention, or all may be lost. The result will not be immediate, but, with repetition, eventually, the American people on both sides of the fence may well not only suggest, but demand that the matter be sorted. At that point, the Government may announce that a Constitutional Review will be undertaken. It would not matter that most of those making the demand are the pundits on the media networks. What would be presented would be that “a majority of Americans demand that the review take place as soon as possible.” Although at the time, the propaganda may imply that the review will be focused on one part of the Constitution, such as the Second Amendment, Americans will soon discover that the entire document is up for grabs. Under the terms of the review, all facets of the Constitution may be questioned. Then what would the outcome be? Each side will hope that their elected representatives will emerge as the heroes, but that is not how politics works. In truth, elected leaders do not seek to serve the public but to dominate them. Invariably, their recommendations for change will be whatever transfers greater power to themselves. Both Democratic and Republican members will argue forcefully for the rights of the American citizen. However, in the end, a “compromise” shall be made — one in which the rights of the populace are diminished and the Government has new powers to allow it to bypass the electorate in the future. If this does occur, the public will, in effect, “boil themselves.” They will have demanded that the Government act, and, when the dust has settled, each side will claim some sort of victory but will fail to understand that they have brought about their own loss of rights. It is hoped that, when the day comes that a Constitutional Review is proposed, Americans refuse to take the bait. *  *  * Economically, politically, and socially, the United States seems to be headed down a path that’s not only inconsistent with the founding principles of the country, but accelerating quickly toward boundless decay. In the years ahead, there will likely be much less stability of any kind. That’s exactly why New York Times bestselling author Doug Casey and his team just released an urgent new report titled Doug Casey’s Top 7 Predictions for the Raging 2020s. Click here to download the free PDF now. Tyler Durden Fri, 08/12/2022 - 19:45.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytAug 12th, 2022

Futures Jump As Traders Scale Back Fed Hike Expectations As Economy Slumps

Futures Jump As Traders Scale Back Fed Hike Expectations As Economy Slumps US equity futures and global markets stormed higher, as the dollar extended its slide from a record high as investors scaled back bets on how aggressively the Federal Reserve will tighten policy in response to growing recession fears which Bloomberg paradoxocially interpreted as "easing recession fears." In other words, rising risk of a recession lowers the risk of a Fed-induced recession. Lovely. In any case, Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1.2% and contracts on the S&P 500 added 1%, with spoos trading back over 3,900 and more than 5% above June’s closing low following Friday’s strong rally on renewed hopes that the Fed will end its rate hikes and soon start cutting rates as well as end QT. West Texas Intermediate crude oil also stormed higher, undoing all recent losses and traded near $100 a barrel while the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index slipped 0.5%, extending a retreat from a record high. The benchmark Treasury yield rose back toward 3%. As Q2 earnings season rolls out, Goldman Sachs shares surged as much as 4% in premarket trading after the  bank reported second-quarter results that were better than expected in nearly every area. Bank of America Corp.’s results were more mixed. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Lilium (LILM US) shares rise as much as 10% in US premarket trading on Monday after Bristow (VTOL US) secured the option to purchase 50 Lilium Jets in addition to providing maintenance services for the aircraft’s launch network in Florida, and other future U.S and European markets. ITHAX Acquisition (ITHX US) shares rise 32% in US premarket trading, extending gains after its holders approved the previously proposed business combination with Mondee at the EGM held on July 15, 2022. Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks are gaining in premarket trading after Bitcoin rose as much as 7.3% to trade above $22,000 for the first time in more than a month. Marathon Digital (MARA US) +8.8%, MicroStrategy (MSTR US) +5.1%, Coinbase (COIN US) +6.2%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) +7.3%, Ebang (EBON US) +2.3% Watch JPMorgan (JPM US) shares as Berenberg raises recommendation to hold, saying the investment bank’s shares are trading at a 20% discount to their long-run average and given the temporary nature of headwinds, downside risks to the stock “are now more limited.” Policy makers pushed back against even bigger hikes in interest rates and fresh data showed a greater decline in US consumers’ long-term inflation expectations. That boosted odds for a 75 basis points July Fed rate hike, squashing talk of a 100 basis-point move after last week flirting with the prospect of a 100 basis-points move after data showed no let-up in stubbornly high price pressures. Yet the bullish market reaction prompted some such as Goldman to ask if the worst is now behind us. Still, the outlook remains troubling for many investors. Gains in stock markets may prove to be short-lived as inflation pressures remain high and a recession seems increasingly likely, according to strategists at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. "Risk-reward at these levels has certainly improved but because we have not yet fully priced in a recession, it’s hard to say that the markets are screaming cheap," said Anastasia Amoroso, the chief investment strategist at iCapital. In Europe, stocks surged to the highest level in more than a month, with the Stoxx 50 jumping 1.3%, and with FTSE MIB outperforming peers, adding 1.4%, while IBEX lags, adding 0.6%. Miners, energy and banks are the strongest-performing Stoxx 600 sectors. Energy and basic resources sectors lead gains in the Stoxx 600 as oil rises after Saudi Arabia refrained from pledges to increase crude supplies, while metals rebound amid reports of China’s steps to help developers. Shell rose as much as 3.8%, TotalEnergies +2.7%, BP +3.7%, Rio Tinto +4.3%, Antofagasta +5.1%, KGHM +6.4%. Here are some of the other notable European movers today: GTT jumps as much as 7.5% as Societe Generale raises its price target on the LNG containment systems firm and reiterates a buy rating, as it sees the firm on the brink of its “strongest and longest period of growth” ever. Solvay rises as much as 5.3% after reporting preliminary results. Citi said the chemicals company reported a solid beat, driven by both volumes and prices contribution from all three segments. Luxury stocks including Cartier owner Richemont and UK trench-coat maker Burberry rebound after declines on Friday, with Deutsche Bank noting that there’s no underlying slowdown in consumer demand for luxury. Richemont shares rise as much as 5%, Burberry +3.8%, LVMH +1.7% BASF gains as much as 4.2% as Bank of America double upgrades the stock to buy from underperform, arguing that the market is overlooking the partial hedge of its oil & gas assets in Wintershall. Nel jumps as much as 16% after the electrolyzer firm announced a 200MW alkaline electrolyzer equipment order. Citi says the order is likely to be taken well by the market as it supports Nel’s medium-term growth outlook and is a positive sign for the trajectory of industry demand. Direct Line falls as much as 15% following profit guidance that was “even worse” than feared amid cost inflation, according to Jefferies, which had cut the stock to hold from buy prior to the statement Monday. Verbund declines as much as 7.8% after Austrian government officials suggested they’re considering a partial cap on household power bills. Asian stocks climbed as investors dial back expectations of aggressive tightening by the Federal Reserve while weighing China’s policy support for the ailing property sector. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 1.4% Monday, poised for the first gain in three days, led by financial and technology shares. Hong Kong and South Korean equities were among the top gainers in the region, while the Japanese market was closed for a holiday. Chinese shares gained after central bank Governor Yi Gang said the monetary authority will step up efforts to provide stronger economic support amid the pandemic and external headwinds. Regulators also urged banks to support developers to help stabilize the real estate market, according to another report. Asian markets took a breather as comments from two Fed officials, as well as a drop in US consumers’ long-term inflation expectations, eased fears about a super-sized interest rate hike this month. Still, ongoing Covid outbreaks in China and woes in the nation’s property sector are clouding the region’s outlook. The Asian stock benchmark is hovering near a two-year low. The Chinese central bank “doesn’t want the economy to overheat in the short term” but more policy initiatives are needed, Vikas Pershad, a fund manager at M&G Investments, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “The slowdown in the property market is not just a small subset of mortgage payments being held back. It’s the ripple effects that go throughout the economy. And that carries through many different sectors.” Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.2% to close at 6,687.10, boosted by gains across miners, banks and energy shares.  A group of materials stocks rebounded as iron ore shook off losses. Whitehaven’s earnings outlook also drove optimism against the backdrop of a tightening market.  In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.4% to 11,163.63. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell as much as 0.5%, underperforming other Group-of-10 peers; JPY and NZD are the weakest performers in G-10 FX, while GBP and SEK outperform. MXN (+0.9%) and LB (+0.8%) lead gains in EMFX. The British pound led gains.The euro rose to the highest level in a week against the dollar. The weekly fear-greed indicator hit the most bearish levels since the Greek crisis in early 2015 on Friday. The New Zealand dollar rose as much as 0.6% to $0.6201 before paring the move, after inflation accelerated more than expected in the second quarter to a fresh 32-year high, fueling bets on further aggressive tightening by the central bank, In rates, Treasuries fell across the curve along with German bonds. US yields were cheaper by 2.5bp to 4bp across a slightly steeper curve with 2s10s, 5s30s spreads wider by 1bp and 0.5bp on the day; 10-year yields around 2.96%, cheaper by 4bp on the day while bunds underperform by additional 4bp. Italian benchmark 10-year yields surged as much as 12 basis points to 3.39%, with little sign of reconciliation among Italy’s governing coalition over the weekend. The spread between Italian and German 10-year yields rose to 223 basis points, the widest in a month, before retracing some of the move. Peripheral spreads are mixed to Germany; Italy tightens, Spain widens and Portugal widens. Commodities were broadly stronger after Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East ended being a total dud and without a firm commitment from Saudi Arabia to boost crude supplies. Wheat climbed after a five-day slump and copper rallied. Crude futures advanced. as WTI drifts 1.9% higher to trade near $99.49. Brent rises 2.2% near $103.34. Most base metals trade in the green; LME nickel rises 3.3%, outperforming peers. Spot gold rises roughly $13 to trade near $1,721/oz. Spot silver gains 1.2% near $19. US nat gas futures extended gains above the $7 level as scorching temperatures across the country boost air-conditioning demand. A heat wave in the UK and France pushed up European natural gas prices, exacerbating the region’s worst energy crunch in decades. Separately, traders are also closely watching whether the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia will fully return to service later this week, when it ends scheduled maintenance. Moscow has already curbed supplies to the continent amid tensions related to its invasion of Ukraine: “The possibility that Russia stops, or severely reduces, their gas exports to Europe should keep markets on edge in the near-term,” Mizuho International Plc strategists Peter McCallum and Evelyne Gomez-Liechti wrote in a note to clients. Bitcoin is bid and lifting above the $22k mark after rising above the $20K support that it has been pivoting, generally speaking, recently. It's a quiet start to an otherwise very busy week (with both the ECB and BOJ on deck), and we only get the NAHB Housing Market Index and the May TIC data later today. We also conclude bank earnings with BofA and Goldman reporting results premarket. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 1.1% to 3,907.00 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.4% to 419.76 MXAP up 1.4% to 156.28 MXAPJ up 1.8% to 516.33 Nikkei up 0.5% to 26,788.47 Topix little changed at 1,892.50 Hang Seng Index up 2.7% to 20,846.18 Shanghai Composite up 1.6% to 3,278.10 Sensex up 1.1% to 54,359.13 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.2% to 6,687.14 Kospi up 1.9% to 2,375.25 German 10Y yield little changed at 1.17% Euro up 0.5% to $1.0134 Gold spot up 0.7% to $1,719.39 US Dollar Index down 0.52% to 107.50 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg After drawing foreign capital into China’s markets for years, President Xi Jinping is now facing the risk of a nasty period of financial de-globalization. Investors point to one main reason why: Xi’s own policies China may allow homeowners to temporarily halt mortgage payments on stalled property projects without incurring penalties, people familiar with the matter said, as authorities race to prevent a crisis of confidence in the housing market from upending the world’s second-largest economy. Prime Minister Mario Draghi is under mounting pressure to reverse his pledge to resign as soon as this week and avoid throwing Italy into chaos as economic warning signs are building Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered part of his forces to focus on destroying Ukraine’s long-range missile and artillery systems during a visit to troops in occupied territory A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks gained with risk appetite spurred after last Friday's firm gains on Wall St. and renewed China support pledges helped markets shrug off China's COVID woes. ASX 200 was underpinned amid M&A activity and with Australia reinstating quarantined-support payments. Nikkei 225 was closed as Japan observed the Marine Day holiday. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. outperformed regional counterparts after PBoC Governor Yi pledged to increase the implementation of prudent monetary policy to provide stronger support for the real economy and with the property sector underpinned after the CBIRC asked lenders to provide credit to eligible developers so they can complete unfinished residential properties. Top Asian News China reported 580 local cases on Saturday which was the highest since May 23rd. It was also reported that Shanghai said that the situation in the city remained severe. It was also reported that Shanghai is planning to conduct district-wide testing in 9 COVID-impacted districts and other smaller scope areas from Wednesday-Friday, while China's Tianjin is also planning massive COVID tests, according to Bloomberg and Reuters. China is considering a mortgage grace period for home projects that have stalled, according to Bloomberg sources. Macau will extend its lockdown of businesses and casino closures to July 22nd, according to Reuters; subsequently, a health officials said some social activites could resume in the next week if cases drop. Beijing government official says no cases have been found so far in COVID tests of nearby neighborhoods, according to a media briefing. Chinese cyberspace regulator is to launch a two-month clean-up campaign which will focus on minors use of livestreaming, games and e-commerce platforms, according to State meida. US State Department approved a possible USD 108mln military sale to Taiwan, according to Reuters. Japanese daily COVID infection cases surpassed 110k on Saturday which was a record high, according to Jiji news agency. Japanese Finance Minister Suzuki reiterated sharp volatility is seen in the FX market and that they must watch moves with a strong sense of urgency, while he also noted that G20 affirmed their agreement on FX and that many countries including Japan, strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Reuters. South Korean Finance Minister Choo said they are to exempt taxes on income from Korean treasury bonds to attract foreign investment, according to Reuters. European bourses are firmer across the board in a continuation of and extension on the overnight risk tone, Euro Stoxx 50 +1.4%. Sectors are firmer across the board with the upside spearheaded by Basic Resources, Energy, and Banks – due to price action in underlying commodity prices, alongside yields. US futures are similarly bid, as we await further earnings with key names including Goldman Sachs on the docket. Delta (DAL) to buy 100 737 Max 10 Boeing (BA) craft, option for 30 additional craft. US chip firms are said to be mulling whether to oppose the CHIPS Act as it may disproportionately benefit Intel (INTC), according to Reuters sources   Top European News UK PM Johnson’s allies are stepping up their attacks against former Chancellor Sunak and accused him of going soft on Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trade regime, according to FT. UK Foreign Secretary Truss signalled she would tighten ministerial scrutiny of the BoE if she becomes the next PM and accused the Bank of failing to tackle inflation, according to FT. A poll by JL Partners of more than 4,400 people found that 48% that backed the Tories in 2019 considered former Chancellor Sunak would be a good PM, while 39% thought the same of Foreign Secretary Truss and 33% thought the same of Trade Secretary Mordaunt, according to The Telegraph. ConservativeHome survey suggested Trade Secretary Mordaunt would lose in a head-to-head against former Chancellor Sunak (41% vs 43%) and against Foreign Secretary Truss (41% vs 48%), according to The Telegraph. UK Foreign Secretary Truss confirms she will not be attending Tuesday's (July 19th) Sky News leadership debate, via Huffington Post's Schofield; additionally, reports that former-Chancellor Sunak is pulling out of the debate. Italy’s League and Forza Italia parties said they can no longer govern with the 5-Star Movement which brings the government closer to collapsing ahead of a potential confidence vote on Wednesday, according to Politico. European Investment Bank said it will reduce road and infrastructure funding in line with its climate objectives, according to FT. Central Banks Fed officials signalled they are likely to increase rates by 75bps at the July meeting and noted that although policymakers left the door open for a 100bps increase, some have simultaneously poured cold water on the idea in recent interviews and comments, according to WSJ. RBNZ announced a new standing repurchase facility which will permit eligible counterparties to lend NZD through the standing repurchase facility from July 20th and will be remunerated at the OCR -15bps, while the RBNZ will deliver to counterparty nominal New Zealand government bonds as collateral in exchange for depositing NZD, according to Reuters. PBoC Governor Yi said China’s economy faces downward pressure due to COVID and external shocks, while he added that the central bank will increase the implementation of prudent monetary policy to provide stronger support for the real economy, according to a PBoC statement cited by Reuters. HKMA said they need to regulate decentralised finance platforms sooner rather than later, while RBA Governor Lowe commented that it is likely better for retail digital currency tokens to be issued by regulated private sector companies than central banks, according to Reuters. SNB intends to increase rates by at least 50bp (from the current -0.25%) at the September gathering, in the scenaro of further inflation upside a 75bp move could occur, according to sources via Schweiz am Wochenende. BoE's Saunders says he will not announce today how he will vote at the August meeting; believes that the tightening cycle has "some way to go", the cost of not tightening promptly enough would be relatively high at present. Czech central bank’s Dedek said it is appropriate today to use FX intervention to prevent the crown from weakening and the aim is not to strengthen the currency, while he added that they are far from the point they would start to feel reserves are getting dangerously low, according to Lidove Noviny. FX Sterling takes advantage of Buck’s demise even before hawkish commentary from BoE’s Saunders, Cable closer to 1.2000 than 1.1850, DXY nearer 107.000 than 108.00. Aussie underpinned by rebound in iron ore ahead of RBA minutes, AUD/USD approaching 0.6850 from sub-0.6800 overnight low. Euro probes 1.0150 vs Greenback ahead of Thursday’s ECB meeting and expected 25 bp hike. Loonie supported by recovery in WTI and BoC Governor Macklem flagging Canadian CPI on 8% handle next week, USD/CAD below 1.3000. Kiwi capped after stronger than forecast NZ inflation data as RBNZ announces standing repo for loans 15 bp below OCR to start on July 20th, NZD/USD hovering under 0.6200 and AUD/NZD cross above 1.1050. Franc lags irrespective of reporting suggesting SNB to hike at least half point again in September as weekly Swiss sight deposits at domestic bank increase, USD/CHF pivots 0.9750. Lira lurches further in wake of Turkish budget balance turning from surplus to deficit, USD/TRY testing 17.5000 offers and semi-psychological resistance. Commodities WTI and Brent have been moving higher with the broader risk tone and after the Biden-Saudi meeting with attention, for the complex, looking to the next OPEC+ gathering. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince MBS said adopting unrealistic policies toward energy sources will lead to inflation and he called on Iran to cooperate with the region, according to Reuters. Saudi's Crown Prince also said that they have an immediate capacity to increase production to 12mln bpd and with investments, production can go to 13mln bpd after which the kingdom will not have any additional capacity to increase production. Saudi Foreign Minister said that they listen to their partners and friends across the world especially consumer countries but added that at the end of the day, OPEC+ follows the market situation and will supply energy as needed, according to Bloomberg. US senior envoy for energy security Hochstein said he expects gas prices to decline further towards USD 4/gallon and is confident there will be a few more steps in the coming weeks from OPEC in terms of oil supply, according to Reuters. Energy Intel’s Bakr stated that we are in a situation where capacity is limited which is why the UAE and Saudi Arabia want to remain cautious about how and when it is used. Top German energy regulator said natgas inventories are nearly 65% full but not enough to get through the winter without Russian gas, according to Bild am Sonntag. Libya’s Oil Minister said Libya has resumed oil exports, according to Al Jazeera. It was also reported that the NOC said its board will not cooperate with any illegal dismissal decisions made by an outgoing administration. South Africa’s largest fuel producer Sasol declared a force majeure on the supply of petroleum products due to delays in deliveries of crude to the Natref refinery, while the outage means all refineries in the country are shut, according to Bloomberg. Iran set August Iranian light crude price to Asia at Oman/Dubai + USD 8.90/bbl, according to Reuters sources. Spot gold is bid as the USD pulls-bacl but is yet to breach USD 1725/oz in relatively limited European newsflow. Base metals bid after strong overnight performance. US Event Calendar 10:00: July NAHB Housing Market Index, est. 65, prior 67 16:00: May Total Net TIC Flows, prior $1.3b DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap It could be a record week here in the UK with temperatures possibly hitting 40 degrees for the first time ever today or tomorrow! While the warm weather has been pleasant of late, I can't wait until Wednesday when it cools down a bit. The coolest I was this weekend was going to a cinema on Saturday night with aircon to see Top Gun Maverick. However that was an incredibly stressful film. I'm not really a fan of action movies but that was edge of the seat stuff and very well done. Looking forward to the third part of the trilogy in 2058. Back to 2022, and with the Fed now on their FOMC blackout period and a lighter US week for data (ex-housing), Q2 US earnings and all things European will be at the forefront of market attention this week with the highlight being the ECB’s likely first rate hike since 2011 on Thursday. Gas flows from Russia after maintenance on the Nord Stream pipeline ends the same day will also be a big focus with the EU expected to detail energy contingency plans the day before. We’ll also get a decision from the BoJ on Thursday too. Global preliminary July PMIs for the US, Japan and key European economies will come out on Friday. Going through some of these themes in more detail now. The ECB meeting on Thursday will likely deliver a +25bps hike, the first rate increase since 2011. Our European economists preview the upcoming meeting here. Their updated call retains the 2% terminal rate forecast but the hiking cycle is expected to be split. The first phase has hikes of +25bp, +50bp, +50bp and +25bp in July, September, October and December. By end-2022, the deposit rate will be 1%, helping to balance inflation and growth risks before the anticipated recession forces a pause. The second phase in H1 2024 is now expected to have four +25bp hikes and push rates into moderately above neutral territory. The ECB’s decision comes as Europe is grappling with significant concerns about the energy supply, a euro that has reached parity against the dollar for the first time since 2002, and inflation at an all-time high of 8.6%. If that’s not enough, it also comes alongside a recent widening in peripheral sovereign bond spreads and an Italian government possibly on the brink of collapse. We should know more on Wednesday when Draghi addresses lawmakers in Rome, however things are escalating quickly. The Five Star Movement (the second largest in the coalition) effectively abstained in a confidence motion in the Senate, triggering the current crisis. This weekend the party have met and don’t seem to be dialling down the rhetoric with leader Conte blaming Draghi for the impasse. Meanwhile the centre-right block are saying the coalition pact has been broken and that they won't now rule in a coalition with Five Star. Probabilities of a snap election are certainly going up. With this unfolding, the details of the anti-fragmentation tool will be highly sought after at the ECB meeting and our economics team reviews the key features of the new tool - size, target, conditionality and sterilisation method - in the same preview note mentioned above. The ECB will also release its Euro area bank lending survey tomorrow and the Survey of Professional Forecasters on Friday. Another event that will keep investors on edge that day is the end of the Nord Stream pipeline’s scheduled maintenance period. Fears that Russia will keep the taps closed have roiled markets in recent weeks and the EU is expected to detail contingency plans on Wednesday. Although the NS1 maintenance period ends on Thursday, it’s possible that there will be ambiguity on supply for a while. Whatever Russia’s plans for supply through the autumn and winter, we may not fully see it in the next few days and weeks. Part of that might be politics and part of it may be operational as the turbine repair may take a while to be fully integrated, or at least that could be the claim. So we may get a few clues from Friday but it is unlikely we’ll know all the answers. See my one-sided devil’s advocate view in Thursday's CoTD here on why it’s not in Putin’s interest to completely cut off the supply of gas. Also on Thursday, the next policy decision from the BoJ will be due. Our chief Japan economist previews the meeting here. While he expects no change in the current monetary stance and forward guidance on policy rates, the BoJ's Outlook Report is expected to show a downgrade in its growth forecast for FY2022 and an increase in its inflation forecast. The national CPI print will be due the next day and our economist expects core inflation (ex. fresh food) to climb to 2.2% YoY (+2.1% in May) and core-core inflation (ex. fresh food and energy) to 0.9% (+0.8% in May). Small fry in a western context but relatively strong for Japan. Back to the data and US housing market indicators will be in focus this week, after the June CPI report showed the fastest monthly gains since 1986 for primary rents and 1990 for owners’ equivalent rent. In terms of data, we have July’s NAHB Housing Market Index (today), followed by June housing starts, building permits (tomorrow) and existing home sales (Wednesday). In European data, the UK will be in focus with June CPI, RPI, PPI and May’s house price index due on Wednesday, preceded by labour market data tomorrow. Also released tomorrow will be July’s consumer confidence for the Eurozone, followed by a similar gauge and June retail sales for the UK on Friday. In terms of earnings, after key US banks started reporting last week, we will get more insight into the state of the economy and consumer spending from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America (today) and American Express (Friday). Amid a mixed-bag performance for commodities in recent weeks, results from Halliburton (tomorrow), Baker Hughes (Wednesday), Schlumberger and NextEra (Friday) will be in focus. Earnings of consumer-oriented companies will be highly anticipated as well, including Johnson & Johnson (tomorrow), United Airlines, Tesla (Wednesday) and American Airlines (Thursday). In tech, key reporting corporates will include IBM (today), Netflix (tomorrow), ASML (Wednesday), SAP (Thursday) and Twitter (Friday). Other corporate earnings reports will feature Lockheed Martin (tomorrow), AT&T, Blackstone (Thursday) and Verizon (Friday). Asian equity markets are higher at start of the week after gains on Wall Street on Friday. As I type, the Hang Seng (+2.45%) is leading the way followed by the Kospi (+1.80%), Shanghai Composite (+1.49%) and the CSI (+1.00%). Elsewhere, markets in Japan are closed today for the Marine Day Holiday. Outside of Asia, stock futures in the DMs are pointing to additional gains with contracts on the S&P 500 (+0.43%), NASDAQ 100 (+0.75%) and DAX (+0.37%) all climbing. Early morning data showed that New Zealand’s consumer price index (+7.3% y/y) climbed to a 32-year high in the June 2022 quarter (v/s +7.1% expected) and speeding up from a +6.9% gain in the first quarter, mainly due to rising prices for construction and rentals for housing. Looking back on another wild week in markets now. The highlight was inflation. The US CPI report came out on Wednesday, where headline yoy inflation bumped up to 9.1%, its highest since 1981. Indeed, each of the headline/core/MoM/YoY measures surpassed expectations. The following day showed producers were also feeling the heat, with final demand PPI measures beating expectations, with the crucial health care component portending an increase in upcoming PCE prints, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure. The prints drove speculation the Fed would deliver a super-charged 100bp hike at the July meeting, but Fed officials threw water on that pricing at the end of the week, signaling a preference for a second consecutive 75bp hike. Nevertheless, the yield curve moved to its most inverted of the cycle, ending the week at -21.3bps, as expected Fed tightening was brought forward, and the resulting landing was expected to get that much harder. All told, 2yr yields increased +1.5bps (-1.2bps Friday) and 10yr yields fell -16.5bps (-4.4bps Friday). While stocks experienced a bump on the easier policy expectations (75 not 100) from Fed speakers at the end of the week, the S&P 500 climbing +1.92% Friday, the index fell the other four days and ended the week -0.93% lower. Tech underperformed with the NASDAQ falling -1.57%, staging a +1.79% recovery of its own on Friday. US earnings season kicked off, with major US financials disappointing, as major money center banks signaled they would likely need to optimise their balance sheets to increase capital ratios over the near-term. A realisation that had JPMorgan temporarily suspending share buybacks. Along with their own inflationary worries, Europe is also facing down political and energy crises. The attempted resignation of Prime Minister Draghi, and subsequent rejection by President Mattarella, injected yet more turmoil into European asset pricing. 10yr BTPs widened 19.4bps versus bunds (+6.5bps Friday), to 212bps, their widest levels since the ECB has floated a new anti-fragmentation tool. Heading into this week’s ECB meeting, pricing currently is at +29.0bps, a smidge higher than the week prior, so some chance the ECB will kick off the hiking cycle with a 50bp hike. 10yr bunds were 21.2bps lower (-4.5bps Friday), giving swirling risk on the continent. Speaking of European natural gas, prices managed to fall -8.23% (-8.84% Friday) following news that Canada would deliver the necessary turbine to restore gas flows from Russia back to the continent, but prices traded in a more than 20% range over the week, showing the anxiety that still dominates the situation. Elsewhere, brent crude fell below $100/bbl intraweek for the first time since mid-April, ultimately falling -5.50% on the week (+2.08% Friday) to $101.16/bbl as global growth fears grip markets. Tyler Durden Mon, 07/18/2022 - 08:24.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJul 18th, 2022

New documentary footage shows Pence after January 6 when Congress was discussing the 25th amendment

Pence appears to respond 'yeah, excellent' when he reads the email. However his team disputes that he considered invoking the 25th amendment. New documentary footage shows Mike Pence reacting to conversations about the 25th amendment. Invoking the 25th amendment could have enabled Pence to replace Trump after January 6. The footage was released as an excerpt from an upcoming documentary by filmmaker Alex Holder. A documentary filmmaker claimed that Vice President Mike Pence appeared to react enthusiastically to an email calling on him to remove president Donald Trump from office after the January 6 attacks on the Capitol, according to CNN.In the footage filmed on January 12, an aide hands Pence his phone and Pence reads an email containing a draft House resolution that would have him invoking the 25th amendment, according to filmmaker Alex Holder. The three-part series, titled "Unprecedented," will be released later this summer.Upon reading the email calling for Pence to remove Trump by invoking the 25th amendment, the vice president smirks and responds, "yeah, excellent," Holder told CNN.Pence's team denied to CNN that he was reacting affirmatively to invoking the 25th amendment. His team told the network that he instead was reacting to an email of his letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying that he would not invoke the 25th amendment. Pence's representatives did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.Ultimately, Pence rejected the idea after House democrats called on him to replace Trump days after the insurrection. The 25th Amendment in the US Constitution allows a president to be withdrawn if a majority of Congress along with the Vice President decide that the president is "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.""The world watched aghast as insurrectionists, who had been egged on by the president, threatened the safety of elected officials... bringing our democracy to a halt," House democrats said the the letter sent to Pence on January 6, 2021.Holder testified to the January 6 committee behind closed doors on Thursday morning and has maintained that Pence was reviewing the actual draft resolution to invoke the 25th amendment when he said "yeah, excellent," and smiled.Holder is set to release a scathing documentary on the inner workings of the Trump administration around the January 6 insurrection, and has been subpoenaed by the committee.The January 6 committee held their fifth hearing on Thursday.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 23rd, 2022

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma"s Political Reach

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma's Political Reach Authored by Rebecca Strong via, They keep telling us to “trust the science.” But who paid for it? After graduating from Columbia University with a chemical engineering degree, my grandfather went on to work for Pfizer for almost two decades, culminating his career as the company’s Global Director of New Products. I was rather proud of this fact growing up — it felt as if this father figure, who raised me for several years during my childhood, had somehow played a role in saving lives. But in recent years, my perspective on Pfizer — and other companies in its class — has shifted. Blame it on the insidious big pharma corruption laid bare by whistleblowers in recent years. Blame it on the endless string of big pharma lawsuits revealing fraud, deception, and cover-ups. Blame it on the fact that I witnessed some of their most profitable drugs ruin the lives of those I love most. All I know is, that pride I once felt has been overshadowed by a sticky skepticism I just can’t seem to shake. In 1973, my grandpa and his colleagues celebrated as Pfizer crossed a milestone: the one-billion-dollar sales mark. These days, Pfizer rakes in $81 billion a year, making it the 28th most valuable company in the world. Johnson & Johnson ranks 15th, with $93.77 billion. To put things into perspective, that makes said companies wealthier than most countries in the world. And thanks to those astronomical profit margins, the Pharmaceuticals and Health Products industry is able to spend more on lobbying than any other industry in America. While big pharma lobbying can take several different forms, these companies tend to target their contributions to senior legislators in Congress — you know, the ones they need to keep in their corner, because they have the power to draft healthcare laws. Pfizer has outspent its peers in six of the last eight election cycles, coughing up almost $9.7 million. During the 2016 election, pharmaceutical companies gave more than $7 million to 97 senators at an average of $75,000 per member. They also contributed $6.3 million to president Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. The question is: what did big pharma get in return? When you've got 1,500 Big Pharma lobbyists on Capitol Hill for 535 members of Congress, it's not too hard to figure out why prescription drug prices in this country are, on average, 256% HIGHER than in other major countries. — Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 3, 2022 ALEC’s Off-the-Record Sway To truly grasp big pharma’s power, you need to understand how The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works. ALEC, which was founded in 1973 by conservative activists working on Ronald Reagan’s campaign, is a super secretive pay-to-play operation where corporate lobbyists — including in the pharma sector — hold confidential meetings about “model” bills. A large portion of these bills is eventually approved and become law. A rundown of ALEC’s greatest hits will tell you everything you need to know about the council’s motives and priorities. In 1995, ALEC promoted a bill that restricts consumers’ rights to sue for damages resulting from taking a particular medication. They also endorsed the Statute of Limitation Reduction Act, which put a time limit on when someone could sue after a medication-induced injury or death. Over the years, ALEC has promoted many other pharma-friendly bills that would: weaken FDA oversight of new drugs and therapies, limit FDA authority over drug advertising, and oppose regulations on financial incentives for doctors to prescribe specific drugs. But what makes these ALEC collaborations feel particularly problematic is that there’s little transparency — all of this happens behind closed doors. Congressional leaders and other committee members involved in ALEC aren’t required to publish any records of their meetings and other communications with pharma lobbyists, and the roster of ALEC members is completely confidential. All we know is that in 2020, more than two-thirds of Congress — 72 senators and 302 House of Representatives members — cashed a campaign check from a pharma company. Big Pharma Funding Research The public typically relies on an endorsement from government agencies to help them decide whether or not a new drug, vaccine, or medical device is safe and effective. And those agencies, like the FDA, count on clinical research. As already established, big pharma is notorious for getting its hooks into influential government officials. Here’s another sobering truth: The majority of scientific research is paid for by — wait for it — the pharmaceutical companies. When the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published 73 studies of new drugs over the course of a single year, they found that a staggering 82% of them had been funded by the pharmaceutical company selling the product, 68% had authors who were employees of that company, and 50% had lead researchers who accepted money from a drug company. According to 2013 research conducted at the University of Arizona College of Law, even when pharma companies aren’t directly funding the research, company stockholders, consultants, directors, and officers are almost always involved in conducting them. A 2017 report by the peer-reviewed journal The BMJ also showed that about half of medical journal editors receive payments from drug companies, with the average payment per editor hovering around $28,000. But these statistics are only accurate if researchers and editors are transparent about payments from pharma. And a 2022 investigative analysis of two of the most influential medical journals found that 81% of study authors failed to disclose millions in payments from drug companies, as they’re required to do. Unfortunately, this trend shows no sign of slowing down. The number of clinical trials funded by the pharmaceutical industry has been climbing every year since 2006, according to a John Hopkins University report, while independent studies have been harder to find. And there are some serious consequences to these conflicts of interest. Take Avandia, for instance, a diabetes drug produced by GlaxoSmithCline (GSK). Avandia was eventually linked to a dramatically increased risk of heart attacks and heart failure. And a BMJ report revealed that almost 90% of scientists who initially wrote glowing articles about Avandia had financial ties to GSK. But here’s the unnerving part: if the pharmaceutical industry is successfully biasing the science, then that means the physicians who rely on the science are biased in their prescribing decisions. Photo credit: UN Women Europe & Central Asia Where the lines get really blurry is with “ghostwriting.” Big pharma execs know citizens are way more likely to trust a report written by a board-certified doctor than one of their representatives. That’s why they pay physicians to list their names as authors — even though the MDs had little to no involvement in the research, and the report was actually written by the drug company. This practice started in the ’50s and ’60s when tobacco execs were clamoring to prove that cigarettes didn’t cause cancer (spoiler alert: they do!), so they commissioned doctors to slap their name on papers undermining the risks of smoking. It’s still a pretty common tactic today: more than one in 10 articles published in the NEJM was co-written by a ghostwriter. While a very small percentage of medical journals have clear policies against ghostwriting, it’s still technically legal —despite the fact that the consequences can be deadly. Case in point: in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Merck paid for 73 ghostwritten articles to play up the benefits of its arthritis drug Vioxx. It was later revealed that Merck failed to report all of the heart attacks experienced by trial participants. In fact, a study published in the NEJM revealed that an estimated 160,000 Americans experienced heart attacks or strokes from taking Vioxx. That research was conducted by Dr. David Graham, Associate Director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, who understandably concluded the drug was not safe. But the FDA’s Office of New Drugs, which not only was responsible for initially approving Vioxx but also regulating it, tried to sweep his findings under the rug. "I was pressured to change my conclusions and recommendations, and basically threatened that if I did not change them, I would not be permitted to present the paper at the conference," he wrote in his 2004 U.S. Senate testimony on Vioxx. "One Drug Safety manager recommended that I should be barred from presenting the poster at the meeting." Eventually, the FDA issued a public health advisory about Vioxx and Merck withdrew this product. But it was a little late for repercussions — 38,000 of those Vioxx-takers who suffered heart attacks had already died. Graham called this a “profound regulatory failure,” adding that scientific standards the FDA apply to drug safety “guarantee that unsafe and deadly drugs will remain on the U.S. market.” This should come as no surprise, but research has also repeatedly shown that a paper written by a pharmaceutical company is more likely to emphasize the benefits of a drug, vaccine, or device while downplaying the dangers. (If you want to understand more about this practice, a former ghostwriter outlines all the ethical reasons why she quit this job in a PLOS Medicine report.) While adverse drug effects appear in 95% of clinical research, only 46% of published reports disclose them. Of course, all of this often ends up misleading doctors into thinking a drug is safer than it actually is. Big Pharma Influence On Doctors Pharmaceutical companies aren’t just paying medical journal editors and authors to make their products look good, either. There’s a long, sordid history of pharmaceutical companies incentivizing doctors to prescribe their products through financial rewards. For instance, Pfizer and AstraZeneca doled out a combined $100 million to doctors in 2018, with some earning anywhere from $6 million to $29 million in a year. And research has shown this strategy works: when doctors accept these gifts and payments, they’re significantly more likely to prescribe those companies’ drugs. Novartis comes to mind — the company famously spent over $100 million paying for doctors’ extravagant meals, golf outings, and more, all while also providing a generous kickback program that made them richer every time they prescribed certain blood pressure and diabetes meds. Side note: the Open Payments portal contains a nifty little database where you can find out if any of your own doctors received money from drug companies. Knowing that my mother was put on a laundry list of meds after a near-fatal car accident, I was curious — so I did a quick search for her providers. While her PCP only banked a modest amount from Pfizer and AstraZeneca, her previous psychiatrist — who prescribed a cocktail of contraindicated medications without treating her in person — collected quadruple-digit payments from pharmaceutical companies. And her pain care specialist, who prescribed her jaw-dropping doses of opioid pain medication for more than 20 years (far longer than the 5-day safety guideline), was raking in thousands from Purdue Pharma, AKA the opioid crisis’ kingpin. Purdue is now infamous for its wildly aggressive OxyContin campaign in the ’90s. At the time, the company billed it as a non-addictive wonder drug for pain sufferers. Internal emails show Pursue sales representatives were instructed to “sell, sell, sell” OxyContin, and the more they were able to push, the more they were rewarded with promotions and bonuses. With the stakes so high, these reps stopped at nothing to get doctors on board — even going so far as to send boxes of doughnuts spelling out “OxyContin” to unconvinced physicians. Purdue had stumbled upon the perfect system for generating tons of profit — off of other people’s pain. Documentation later proved that not only was Purdue aware it was highly addictive and that many people were abusing it, but that they also encouraged doctors to continue prescribing increasingly higher doses of it (and sent them on lavish luxury vacations for some motivation). In testimony to Congress, Purdue exec Paul Goldenheim played dumb about OxyContin addiction and overdose rates, but emails that were later exposed showed that he requested his colleagues remove all mentions of addiction from their correspondence about the drug. Even after it was proven in court that Purdue fraudulently marketed OxyContin while concealing its addictive nature, no one from the company spent a single day behind bars. Instead, the company got a slap on the wrist and a $600 million fine for a misdemeanor, the equivalent of a speeding ticket compared to the $9 billion they made off OxyContin up until 2006. Meanwhile, thanks to Purdue’s recklessness, more than 247,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2009. And that’s not even factoring in all the people who died of heroin overdoses once OxyContin was no longer attainable to them. The NIH reports that 80% of people who use heroin started by misusing prescription opioids. Former sales rep Carol Panara told me in an interview that when she looks back on her time at Purdue, it all feels like a “bad dream.” Panara started working for Purdue in 2008, one year after the company pled guilty to “misbranding” charges for OxyContin. At this point, Purdue was “regrouping and expanding,” says Panara, and to that end, had developed a clever new approach for making money off OxyContin: sales reps were now targeting general practitioners and family doctors, rather than just pain management specialists. On top of that, Purdue soon introduced three new strengths for OxyContin: 15, 30, and 60 milligrams, creating smaller increments Panara believes were aimed at making doctors feel more comfortable increasing their patients’ dosages. According to Panara, there were internal company rankings for sales reps based on the number of prescriptions for each OxyContin dosing strength in their territory. “They were sneaky about it,” she said. “Their plan was to go in and sell these doctors on the idea of starting with 10 milligrams, which is very low, knowing full well that once they get started down that path — that’s all they need. Because eventually, they’re going to build a tolerance and need a higher dose.” Occasionally, doctors expressed concerns about a patient becoming addicted, but Purdue had already developed a way around that. Sales reps like Panara were taught to reassure those doctors that someone in pain might experience addiction-like symptoms called “pseudoaddiction,” but that didn’t mean they were truly addicted. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support that this concept is legit, of course. But the most disturbing part? Reps were trained to tell doctors that “pseudoaddiction” signaled the patient’s pain wasn’t being managed well enough, and the solution was simply to prescribe a higher dose of OxyContin. Panara finally quit Purdue in 2013. One of the breaking points was when two pharmacies in her territory were robbed at gunpoint specifically for OxyContin. In 2020, Purdue pled guilty to three criminal charges in an $8.3 billion deal, but the company is now under court protection after filing for bankruptcy. Despite all the damage that’s been done, the FDA’s policies for approving opioids remain essentially unchanged. Photo credit: Jennifer Durban Purdue probably wouldn’t have been able to pull this off if it weren’t for an FDA examiner named Curtis Wright, and his assistant Douglas Kramer. While Purdue was pursuing Wright’s stamp of approval on OxyContin, Wright took an outright sketchy approach to their application, instructing the company to mail documents to his home office rather than the FDA, and enlisting Purdue employees to help him review trials about the safety of the drug. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that the FDA have access to at least two randomized controlled trials before deeming a drug as safe and effective, but in the case of OxyContin, it got approved with data from just one measly two-week study — in osteoarthritis patients, no less. When both Wright and Kramer left the FDA, they went on to work for none other than (drumroll, please) Purdue, with Wright earning three times his FDA salary. By the way — this is just one example of the FDA’s notoriously incestuous relationship with big pharma, often referred to as “the revolving door”. In fact, a 2018 Science report revealed that 11 out of 16 FDA reviewers ended up at the same companies they had been regulating products for. While doing an independent investigation, “Empire of Pain” author and New Yorker columnist Patrick Radden Keefe tried to gain access to documentation of Wright’s communications with Purdue during the OxyContin approval process. “The FDA came back and said, ‘Oh, it’s the weirdest thing, but we don’t have anything. It’s all either been lost or destroyed,’” Keefe told Fortune in an interview. “But it’s not just the FDA. It’s Congress, it’s the Department of Justice, it’s big parts of the medical establishment … the sheer amount of money involved, I think, has meant that a lot of the checks that should be in place in society to not just achieve justice, but also to protect us as consumers, were not there because they had been co-opted.” Big pharma may be to blame for creating the opioids that caused this public health catastrophe, but the FDA deserves just as much scrutiny — because its countless failures also played a part in enabling it. And many of those more recent fails happened under the supervision of Dr. Janet Woodcock. Woodcock was named FDA’s acting commissioner mere hours after Joe Biden was inaugurated as president. She would have been a logical choice, being an FDA vet of 35 years, but then again it’s impossible to forget that she played a starring role in the FDA’s perpetuating the opioid epidemic. She’s also known for overruling her own scientific advisors when they vote against approving a drug. Not only did Woodcock approve OxyContin for children as young as 11 years old, but she also gave the green light to several other highly controversial extended-release opioid pain drugs without sufficient evidence of safety or efficacy. One of those was Zohydro: in 2011, the FDA’s advisory committee voted 11:2 against approving it due to safety concerns about inappropriate use, but Woodcock went ahead and pushed it through, anyway. Under Woodcock’s supervision, the FDA also approved Opana, which is twice as powerful as OxyContin — only to then beg the drug maker to take it off the market 10 years later due to “abuse and manipulation.” And then there was Dsuvia, a potent painkiller 1,000 times stronger than morphine and 10 times more powerful than fentanyl. According to a head of one of the FDA’s advisory committees, the U.S. military had helped to develop this particular drug, and Woodcock said there was “pressure from the Pentagon” to push it through approvals. The FBI, members of congress, public health advocates, and patient safety experts alike called this decision into question, pointing out that with hundreds of opioids already on the market there’s no need for another — particularly one that comes with such high risks. Most recently, Woodcock served as the therapeutics lead for Operation Warp Speed, overseeing COVID-19 vaccine development. Big Pharma Lawsuits, Scandals, and Cover-Ups While the OxyContin craze is undoubtedly one of the highest-profile examples of big pharma’s deception, there are dozens of other stories like this. Here are a few standouts: In the 1980s, Bayer continued selling blood clotting products to third-world countries even though they were fully aware those products had been contaminated with HIV. The reason? The “financial investment in the product was considered too high to destroy the inventory.” Predictably, about 20,000 of the hemophiliacs who were infused with these tainted products then tested positive for HIV and eventually developed AIDS, and many later died of it. In 2004, Johnson & Johnson was slapped with a series of lawsuits for illegally promoting off-label use of their heartburn drug Propulsid for children despite internal company emails confirming major safety concerns (as in, deaths during the drug trials). Documentation from the lawsuits showed that dozens of studies sponsored by Johnson & Johnson highlighting the risks of this drug were never published. The FDA estimates that GSK’s Avandia caused 83,000 heart attacks between 1999 and 2007. Internal documents from GSK prove that when they began studying the effects of the drug as early as 1999, they discovered it caused a higher risk of heart attacks than a similar drug it was meant to replace. Rather than publish these findings, they spent a decade illegally concealing them (and meanwhile, banking $3.2 billion annually for this drug by 2006). Finally, a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study linked Avandia to a 43% increased risk of heart attacks, and a 64% increased risk of death from heart disease. Avandia is still FDA approved and available in the U.S. In 2009, Pfizer was forced to pay $2.3 billion, the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history at that time, for paying illegal kickbacks to doctors and promoting off-label uses of its drugs. Specifically, a former employee revealed that Pfizer reps were encouraged and incentivized to sell Bextra and 12 other drugs for conditions they were never FDA approved for, and at doses up to eight times what’s recommended. “I was expected to increase profits at all costs, even when sales meant endangering lives,” the whistleblower said. When it was discovered that AstraZeneca was promoting the antipsychotic medication Seroquel for uses that were not approved by the FDA as safe and effective, the company was hit with a $520 million fine in 2010. For years, AstraZeneca had been encouraging psychiatrists and other physicians to prescribe Seroquel for a vast range of seemingly unrelated off-label conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, anger management, ADHD, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleeplessness. AstraZeneca also violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute by paying doctors to spread the word about these unapproved uses of Seroquel via promotional lectures and while traveling to resort locations. In 2012, GSK paid a $3 billion fine for bribing doctors by flying them and their spouses to five-star resorts, and for illegally promoting drugs for off-label uses. What’s worse — GSK withheld clinical trial results that showed its antidepressant Paxil not only doesn’t work for adolescents and children but more alarmingly, that it can increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts in this group. A 1998 GSK internal memo revealed that the company intentionally concealed this data to minimize any “potential negative commercial impact.” In 2021, an ex-AstraZeneca sales rep sued her former employer, claiming they fired her for refusing to promote drugs for uses that weren’t FDA-approved. The employee alleges that on multiple occasions, she expressed concerns to her boss about “misleading” information that didn’t have enough support from medical research, and off-label promotions of certain drugs. Her supervisor reportedly not only ignored these concerns but pressured her to approve statements she didn’t agree with and threatened to remove her from regional and national positions if she didn’t comply. According to the plaintiff, she missed out on a raise and a bonus because she refused to break the law. At the top of 2022, a panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit against Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, and GE Healthcare, which claims they helped finance terrorist attacks against U.S. service members and other Americans in Iraq. The suit alleges that from 2005–2011, these companies regularly offered bribes (including free drugs and medical devices) totaling millions of dollars annually to Iraq’s Ministry of Health in order to secure drug contracts. These corrupt payments then allegedly funded weapons and training for the Mahdi Army, which until 2008, was largely considered one of the most dangerous groups in Iraq. Another especially worrisome factor is that pharmaceutical companies are conducting an ever-increasing number of clinical trials in third-world countries, where people may be less educated, and there are also far fewer safety regulations. Pfizer’s 1996 experimental trials with Trovan on Nigerian children with meningitis — without informed consent — is just one nauseating example. When a former medical director in Pfizer’s central research division warned the company both before and after the study that their methods in this trial were “improper and unsafe,” he was promptly fired. Families of the Nigerian children who died or were left blind, brain damaged, or paralyzed after the study sued Pfizer, and the company ultimately settled out of court. In 1998, the FDA approved Trovan only for adults. The drug was later banned from European markets due to reports of fatal liver disease and restricted to strictly emergency care in the U.S. Pfizer still denies any wrongdoing. “Nurse prepares to vaccinate children” by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 But all that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like to dive a little further down the rabbit hole — and I’ll warn you, it’s a deep one — a quick Google search for “big pharma lawsuits” will reveal the industry’s dark track record of bribery, dishonesty, and fraud. In fact, big pharma happens to be the biggest defrauder of the federal government when it comes to the False Claims Act, otherwise known as the “Lincoln Law.” During our interview, Panara told me she has friends still working for big pharma who would be willing to speak out about crooked activity they’ve observed, but are too afraid of being blacklisted by the industry. A newly proposed update to the False Claims Act would help to protect and support whistleblowers in their efforts to hold pharmaceutical companies liable, by helping to prevent that kind of retaliation and making it harder for the companies charged to dismiss these cases. It should come as no surprise that Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck, and a flock of other big pharma firms are currently lobbying to block the update. Naturally, they wouldn’t want to make it any easier for ex-employees to expose their wrongdoings, potentially costing them billions more in fines. Something to keep in mind: these are the same people who produced, marketed, and are profiting from the COVID-19 vaccines. The same people who manipulate research, pay off decision-makers to push their drugs, cover up negative research results to avoid financial losses, and knowingly put innocent citizens in harm’s way. The same people who told America: “Take as much OxyContin as you want around the clock! It’s very safe and not addictive!” (while laughing all the way to the bank). So, ask yourself this: if a partner, friend, or family member repeatedly lied to you — and not just little white lies, but big ones that put your health and safety at risk — would you continue to trust them? Backing the Big Four: Big Pharma and the FDA, WHO, NIH, CDC I know what you’re thinking. Big pharma is amoral and the FDA’s devastating slips are a dime a dozen — old news. But what about agencies and organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO), and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)? Don’t they have an obligation to provide unbiased guidance to protect citizens? Don’t worry, I’m getting there. The WHO’s guidance is undeniably influential across the globe. For most of this organization’s history, dating back to 1948, it could not receive donations from pharmaceutical companies — only member states. But that changed in 2005 when the WHO updated its financial policy to permit private money into its system. Since then, the WHO has accepted many financial contributions from big pharma. In fact, it’s only 20% financed by member states today, with a whopping 80% of financing coming from private donors. For instance, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is now one of its main contributors, providing up to 13% of its funds — about $250–300 million a year. Nowadays, the BMGF provides more donations to the WHO than the entire United States. Dr. Arata Kochi, former head of WHO’s malaria program, expressed concerns to director-general Dr. Margaret Chan in 2007 that taking the BMGF’s money could have “far-reaching, largely unintended consequences” including “stifling a diversity of views among scientists.” “The big concerns are that the Gates Foundation isn’t fully transparent and accountable,” Lawrence Gostin, director of WHO’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, told Devex in an interview. “By wielding such influence, it could steer WHO priorities … It would enable a single rich philanthropist to set the global health agenda.” Photo credit: National Institutes of Health Take a peek at the WHO’s list of donors and you’ll find a few other familiar names like AstraZeneca, Bayer, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck. The NIH has the same problem, it seems. Science journalist Paul Thacker, who previously examined financial links between physicians and pharma companies as a lead investigator of the United States Senate Committee, wrote in The Washington Post that this agency “often ignored” very “obvious” conflicts of interest. He also claimed that “its industry ties go back decades.” In 2018, it was discovered that a $100 million alcohol consumption study run by NIH scientists was funded mostly by beer and liquor companies. Emails proved that NIH researchers were in frequent contact with those companies while designing the study — which, here’s a shocker — were aimed at highlighting the benefits and not the risks of moderate drinking. So, the NIH ultimately had to squash the trial. And then there’s the CDC. It used to be that this agency couldn’t take contributions from pharmaceutical companies, but in 1992 they found a loophole: new legislation passed by Congress allowed them to accept private funding through a nonprofit called the CDC Foundation. From 2014 through 2018 alone, the CDC Foundation received $79.6 million from corporations like Pfizer, Biogen, and Merck. Of course, if a pharmaceutical company wants to get a drug, vaccine, or other product approved, they really need to cozy up to the FDA. That explains why in 2017, pharma companies paid for a whopping 75% of the FDA’s scientific review budgets, up from 27% in 1993. It wasn’t always like this. But in 1992, an act of Congress changed the FDA’s funding stream, enlisting pharma companies to pay “user fees,” which help the FDA speed up the approval process for their drugs. A 2018 Science investigation found that 40 out of 107 physician advisors on the FDA’s committees received more than $10,000 from big pharma companies trying to get their drugs approved, with some banking up to $1 million or more. The FDA claims it has a well-functioning system to identify and prevent these possible conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, their system only works for spotting payments before advisory panels meet, and the Science investigation showed many FDA panel members get their payments after the fact. It’s a little like “you scratch my back now, and I’ll scratch your back once I get what I want” — drug companies promise FDA employees a future bonus contingent on whether things go their way. Here’s why this dynamic proves problematic: a 2000 investigation revealed that when the FDA approved the rotavirus vaccine in 1998, it didn’t exactly do its due diligence. That probably had something to do with the fact that committee members had financial ties to the manufacturer, Merck — many owned tens of thousands of dollars of stock in the company, or even held patents on the vaccine itself. Later, the Adverse Event Reporting System revealed that the vaccine was causing serious bowel obstructions in some children, and it was finally pulled from the U.S. market in October 1999. Then, in June of 2021, the FDA overruled concerns raised by its very own scientific advisory committee to approve Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm — a move widely criticized by physicians. The drug not only showed very little efficacy but also potentially serious side effects like brain bleeding and swelling, in clinical trials. Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a Harvard Medical School professor who was on the FDA’s scientific advisory committee, called it the “worst drug approval” in recent history, and noted that meetings between the FDA and Biogen had a “strange dynamic” suggesting an unusually close relationship. Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, told CNN that he believes the FDA started working in “inappropriately close collaboration with Biogen” back in 2019. “They were not objective, unbiased regulators,” he added in the CNN interview. “It seems as if the decision was preordained.” That brings me to perhaps the biggest conflict of interest yet: Dr. Anthony Fauci’s NIAID is just one of many institutes that comprises the NIH — and the NIH owns half the patent for the Moderna vaccine — as well as thousands more pharma patents to boot. The NIAID is poised to earn millions of dollars from Moderna’s vaccine revenue, with individual officials also receiving up to $150,000 annually. Operation Warp Speed In December of 2020, Pfizer became the first company to receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA for a COVID-19 vaccine. EUAs — which allow the distribution of an unapproved drug or other product during a declared public health emergency — are actually a pretty new thing: the first one was issued in 2005 so military personnel could get an anthrax vaccine. To get a full FDA approval, there needs to be substantial evidence that the product is safe and effective. But for an EUA, the FDA just needs to determine that it may be effective. Since EUAs are granted so quickly, the FDA doesn’t have enough time to gather all the information they’d usually need to approve a drug or vaccine. “Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Event” by The White House is licensed under CC PDM 1.0 Pfizer CEO and chairman Albert Bourla has said his company was “operating at the speed of science” to bring a vaccine to market. However, a 2021 report in The BMJ revealed that this speed might have come at the expense of “data integrity and patient safety.” Brook Jackson, regional director for the Ventavia Research Group, which carried out these trials, told The BMJ that her former company “falsified data, unblinded patients, and employed inadequately trained vaccinators” in Pfizer’s pivotal phase 3 trial. Just some of the other concerning events witnessed included: adverse events not being reported correctly or at all, lack of reporting on protocol deviations, informed consent errors, and mislabeling of lab specimens. An audio recording of Ventavia employees from September 2020 revealed that they were so overwhelmed by issues arising during the study that they became unable to “quantify the types and number of errors” when assessing quality control. One Ventavia employee told The BMJ she’d never once seen a research environment as disorderly as Ventavia’s Pfizer vaccine trial, while another called it a “crazy mess.” Over the course of her two-decades-long career, Jackson has worked on hundreds of clinical trials, and two of her areas of expertise happen to be immunology and infectious diseases. She told me that from her first day on the Pfizer trial in September of 2020, she discovered “such egregious misconduct” that she recommended they stop enrolling participants into the study to do an internal audit. “To my complete shock and horror, Ventavia agreed to pause enrollment but then devised a plan to conceal what I found and to keep ICON and Pfizer in the dark,” Jackson said during our interview. “The site was in full clean-up mode. When missing data points were discovered the information was fabricated, including forged signatures on the informed consent forms.” A screenshot Jackson shared with me shows she was invited to a meeting titled “COVID 1001 Clean up Call” on Sept. 21, 2020. She refused to participate in the call. Jackson repeatedly warned her superiors about patient safety concerns and data integrity issues. “I knew that the entire world was counting on clinical researchers to develop a safe and effective vaccine and I did not want to be a part of that failure by not reporting what I saw,” she told me. When her employer failed to act, Jackson filed a complaint with the FDA on Sept. 25, and Ventavia fired her hours later that same day under the pretense that she was “not a good fit.” After reviewing her concerns over the phone, she claims the FDA never followed up or inspected the Ventavia site. Ten weeks later, the FDA authorized the EUA for the vaccine. Meanwhile, Pfizer hired Ventavia to handle the research for four more vaccine clinical trials, including one involving children and young adults, one for pregnant women, and another for the booster. Not only that, but Ventavia handled the clinical trials for Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax. Jackson is currently pursuing a False Claims Act lawsuit against Pfizer and Ventavia Research Group. Last year, Pfizer banked nearly $37 billion from its COVID vaccine, making it one of the most lucrative products in global history. Its overall revenues doubled in 2021 to reach $81.3 billion, and it’s slated to reach a record-breaking $98-$102 billion this year. “Corporations like Pfizer should never have been put in charge of a global vaccination rollout, because it was inevitable they would make life-and-death decisions based on what’s in the short-term interest of their shareholders,” writes Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. As previously mentioned, it’s super common for pharmaceutical companies to fund the research on their own products. Here’s why that’s scary. One 1999 meta-analysis showed that industry-funded research is eight times less likely to achieve unfavorable results compared to independent trials. In other words, if a pharmaceutical company wants to prove that a medication, supplement, vaccine, or device is safe and effective, they’ll find a way. With that in mind, I recently examined the 2020 study on Pfizer’s COVID vaccine to see if there were any conflicts of interest. Lo and behold, the lengthy attached disclosure form shows that of the 29 authors, 18 are employees of Pfizer and hold stock in the company, one received a research grant from Pfizer during the study, and two reported being paid “personal fees” by Pfizer. In another 2021 study on the Pfizer vaccine, seven of the 15 authors are employees of and hold stock in Pfizer. The other eight authors received financial support from Pfizer during the study. Photo credit: Prasesh Shiwakoti (Lomash) via Unsplash As of the day I’m writing this, about 64% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 76% have gotten at least one dose. The FDA has repeatedly promised “full transparency” when it comes to these vaccines. Yet in December of 2021, the FDA asked for permission to wait 75 years before releasing information pertaining to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, including safety data, effectiveness data, and adverse reaction reports. That means no one would see this information until the year 2096 — conveniently, after many of us have departed this crazy world. To recap: the FDA only needed 10 weeks to review the 329,000 pages worth of data before approving the EUA for the vaccine — but apparently, they need three-quarters of a century to publicize it. In response to the FDA’s ludicrous request, PHMPT — a group of over 200 medical and public health experts from Harvard, Yale, Brown, UCLA, and other institutions — filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act demanding that the FDA produce this data sooner. And their efforts paid off: U.S. District Judge Mark T. Pittman issued an order for the FDA to produce 12,000 pages by Jan. 31, and then at least 55,000 pages per month thereafter. In his statement to the FDA, Pittman quoted the late John F. Kennedy: “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” As for why the FDA wanted to keep this data hidden, the first batch of documentation revealed that there were more than 1,200 vaccine-related deaths in just the first 90 days after the Pfizer vaccine was introduced. Of 32 pregnancies with a known outcome, 28 resulted in fetal death. The CDC also recently unveiled data showing a total of 1,088,560 reports of adverse events from COVID vaccines were submitted between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 28, 2022. That data included 23,149 reports of deaths and 183,311 reports of serious injuries. There were 4,993 reported adverse events in pregnant women after getting vaccinated, including 1,597 reports of miscarriage or premature birth. A 2022 study published in JAMA, meanwhile, revealed that there have been more than 1,900 reported cases of myocarditis — or inflammation of the heart muscle — mostly in people 30 and under, within 7 days of getting the vaccine. In those cases, 96% of people were hospitalized. “It is understandable that the FDA does not want independent scientists to review the documents it relied upon to license Pfizer’s vaccine given that it is not as effective as the FDA originally claimed, does not prevent transmission, does not prevent against certain emerging variants, can cause serious heart inflammation in younger individuals, and has numerous other undisputed safety issues,” writes Aaron Siri, the attorney representing PHMPT in its lawsuit against the FDA. Siri told me in an email that his office phone has been ringing off the hook in recent months. “We are overwhelmed by inquiries from individuals calling about an injury from a COVID-19 vaccine,” he said. By the way — it’s worth noting that adverse effects caused by COVID-19 vaccinations are still not covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are protected under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, which grants them total immunity from liability with their vaccines. And no matter what happens to you, you can’t sue the FDA for authorizing the EUA, or your employer for requiring you to get it, either. Billions of taxpayer dollars went to fund the research and development of these vaccines, and in Moderna’s case, licensing its vaccine was made possible entirely by public funds. But apparently, that still warrants citizens no insurance. Should something go wrong, you’re basically on your own. Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine business model: government gives them billions, gives them immunity for any injuries or if doesn't work, promotes their products for free, and mandates their products. Sounds crazy? Yes, but it is our current reality. — Aaron Siri (@AaronSiriSG) February 2, 2022 The Hypocrisy of “Misinformation” I find it interesting that “misinformation” has become such a pervasive term lately, but more alarmingly, that it’s become an excuse for blatant censorship on social media and in journalism. It’s impossible not to wonder what’s driving this movement to control the narrative. In a world where we still very clearly don’t have all the answers, why shouldn’t we be open to exploring all the possibilities? And while we’re on the subject, what about all of the COVID-related untruths that have been spread by our leaders and officials? Why should they get a free pass? Photo credit: @upgradeur_life, Fauci, President Biden, and the CDC’s Rochelle Walensky all promised us with total confidence the vaccine would prevent us from getting or spreading COVID, something we now know is a myth. (In fact, the CDC recently had to change its very definition of “vaccine ” to promise “protection” from a disease rather than “immunity”— an important distinction). At one point, the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and former Governor Andrew Cuomo prepared a social media campaign with misleading messaging that the vaccine was “approved by the FDA” and “went through the same rigorous approval process that all vaccines go through,” when in reality the FDA only authorized the vaccines under an EUA, and the vaccines were still undergoing clinical trials. While the NYS DOH eventually responded to pressures to remove these false claims, a few weeks later the Department posted on Facebook that “no serious side effects related to the vaccines have been reported,” when in actuality, roughly 16,000 reports of adverse events and over 3,000 reports of serious adverse events related to a COVID-19 vaccination had been reported in the first two months of use. One would think we’d hold the people in power to the same level of accountability — if not more — than an average citizen. So, in the interest of avoiding hypocrisy, should we “cancel” all these experts and leaders for their “misinformation,” too? Vaccine-hesitant people have been fired from their jobs, refused from restaurants, denied the right to travel and see their families, banned from social media channels, and blatantly shamed and villainized in the media. Some have even lost custody of their children. These people are frequently labeled “anti-vax,” which is misleading given that many (like the NBA’s Jonathan Isaac) have made it repeatedly clear they are not against all vaccines, but simply making a personal choice not to get this one. (As such, I’ll suggest switching to a more accurate label: “pro-choice.”) Fauci has repeatedly said federally mandating the vaccine would not be “appropriate” or “enforceable” and doing so would be “encroaching upon a person’s freedom to make their own choice.” So it’s remarkable that still, some individual employers and U.S. states, like my beloved Massachusetts, have taken it upon themselves to enforce some of these mandates, anyway. Meanwhile, a Feb. 7 bulletin posted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security indicates that if you spread information that undermines public trust in a government institution (like the CDC or FDA), you could be considered a terrorist. In case you were wondering about the current state of free speech. The definition of institutional oppression is “the systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based on the person’s membership in the social identity group.” It is defined as occurring when established laws and practices “systematically reflect and produce inequities based on one’s membership in targeted social identity groups.” Sound familiar? As you continue to watch the persecution of the unvaccinated unfold, remember this. Historically, when society has oppressed a particular group of people whether due to their gender, race, social class, religious beliefs, or sexuality, it’s always been because they pose some kind of threat to the status quo. The same is true for today’s unvaccinated. Since we know the vaccine doesn’t prevent the spread of COVID, however, this much is clear: the unvaccinated don’t pose a threat to the health and safety of their fellow citizens — but rather, to the bottom line of powerful pharmaceutical giants and the many global organizations they finance. And with more than $100 billion on the line in 2021 alone, I can understand the motivation to silence them. The unvaccinated have been called selfish. Stupid. Fauci has said it’s “almost inexplicable” that they are still resisting. But is it? What if these people aren’t crazy or uncaring, but rather have — unsurprisingly so — lost their faith in the agencies that are supposed to protect them? Can you blame them? Citizens are being bullied into getting a vaccine that was created, evaluated, and authorized in under a year, with no access to the bulk of the safety data for said vaccine, and no rights whatsoever to pursue legal action if they experience adverse effects from it. What these people need right now is to know they can depend on their fellow citizens to respect their choices, not fuel the segregation by launching a full-fledged witch hunt. Instead, for some inexplicable reason I imagine stems from fear, many continue rallying around big pharma rather than each other. A 2022 Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports survey of Democratic voters found that 59% of respondents support a government policy requiring unvaccinated individuals to remain confined in their home at all times, 55% support handing a fine to anyone who won’t get the vaccine, and 48% think the government should flat out imprison people who publicly question the efficacy of the vaccines on social media, TV, or online in digital publications. Even Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up. Photo credit: DJ Paine on Unsplash Let me be very clear. While there are a lot of bad actors out there — there are also a lot of well-meaning people in the science and medical industries, too. I’m lucky enough to know some of them. There are doctors who fend off pharma reps’ influence and take an extremely cautious approach to prescribing. Medical journal authors who fiercely pursue transparency and truth — as is evident in “The Influence of Money on Medical Science,” a report by the first female editor of JAMA. Pharmacists, like Dan Schneider, who refuse to fill prescriptions they deem risky or irresponsible. Whistleblowers, like Graham and Jackson, who tenaciously call attention to safety issues for pharma products in the approval pipeline. And I’m certain there are many people in the pharmaceutical industry, like Panara and my grandfather, who pursued this field with the goal of helping others, not just earning a six- or seven-figure salary. We need more of these people. Sadly, it seems they are outliers who exist in a corrupt, deep-rooted system of quid-pro-quo relationships. They can only do so much. I’m not here to tell you whether or not you should get the vaccine or booster doses. What you put in your body is not for me — or anyone else — to decide. It’s not a simple choice, but rather one that may depend on your physical condition, medical history, age, religious beliefs, and level of risk tolerance. My grandfather passed away in 2008, and lately, I find myself missing him more than ever, wishing I could talk to him about the pandemic and hear what he makes of all this madness. I don’t really know how he’d feel about the COVID vaccine, or whether he would have gotten it or encouraged me to. What I do know is that he’d listen to my concerns, and he’d carefully consider them. He would remind me my feelings are valid. His eyes would light up and he’d grin with amusement as I fervidly expressed my frustration. He’d tell me to keep pushing forward, digging deeper, asking questions. In his endearing Bronx accent, he used to always say: “go get ‘em, kid.” If I stop typing for a moment and listen hard enough, I can almost hear him saying it now. People keep saying “trust the science.” But when trust is broken, it must be earned back. And as long as our legislative system, public health agencies, physicians, and research journals keep accepting pharmaceutical money (with strings attached) — and our justice system keeps letting these companies off the hook when their negligence causes harm, there’s no reason for big pharma to change. They’re holding the bag, and money is power. I have a dream that one day, we’ll live in a world where we are armed with all the thorough, unbiased data necessary to make informed decisions about our health. Alas, we’re not even close. What that means is that it’s up to you to educate yourself as much as possible, and remain ever-vigilant in evaluating information before forming an opinion. You can start by reading clinical trials yourself, rather than relying on the media to translate them for you. Scroll to the bottom of every single study to the “conflicts of interest” section and find out who funded it. Look at how many subjects were involved. Confirm whether or not blinding was used to eliminate bias. You may also choose to follow Public Citizen’s Health Research Group’s rule whenever possible: that means avoiding a new drug until five years after an FDA approval (not an EUA, an actual approval) — when there’s enough data on the long-term safety and effectiveness to establish that the benefits outweigh the risks. When it comes to the news, you can seek out independent, nonprofit outlets, which are less likely to be biased due to pharma funding. And most importantly, when it appears an organization is making concerted efforts to conceal information from you — like the FDA recently did with the COVID vaccine — it’s time to ask yourself: why? What are they trying to hide? In the 2019 film “Dark Waters” — which is based on the true story of one of the greatest corporate cover-ups in American history — Mark Ruffalo as attorney Rob Bilott says: “The system is rigged. They want us to think it’ll protect us, but that’s a lie. We protect us. We do. Nobody else. Not the companies. Not the scientists. Not the government. Us.” Words to live by. Tyler Durden Sat, 04/09/2022 - 22:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 9th, 2022

Almost 40% Of Americans Would Rather Flee Than Defend The US; New Poll Finds

Almost 40% Of Americans Would Rather Flee Than Defend The US; New Poll Finds Authored by Jonathan Turley, In World War II, Winston Churchill famously declared that “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” It appears that there may be even fewer to count on if a recent poll out this weekend is accurate. The Quinnipiac University poll asked Americans “what would you do if you were in the same position as Ukrainians are now, stay and fight or leave the country?” Only 55 percent said that they would stay and fight for this country. That included only 40 percent of Democrats. Overall 38 percent of Americans said that they would flee. It appears that this country is facing an existential crisis of faith and we should have a frank discussion about why so comparably few Americans are now willing to pledge their lives in defense of this country. Quinnipiac has long been relied upon in polling in the United States and is one of the most cited polling outfits for the media. It is important to note that, while the results were shocking overall, many did say that they would stand and defend the United States from any invader. When asked this question 68 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Independents say that they would fight. However more than half of Democrats (52%) said they would flee before fighting for their country (Eight percent did not have an answer, a shrug that is equally alarming). As someone who came from a liberal, Democratic family in Chicago, I was shocked by the poll. My father and grandfather fought in the World Wars and everyone I grew up with on the liberal Northside of Chicago was both intensely liberal and intensely patriotic. Indeed, I often heard my parents challenge Republican friends for suggesting that conservatives were more patriotic or more willing to sacrifice for their country. For my maternal Sicilian family, they felt a deep bond to the country that took them in and allowed them to live in freedom. Despite the prejudice that they encountered and difficult times, my Sicilian grandparents celebrated Independence Day like a religious holiday and often discussed their pride when they became American citizens. My grandfather was a union organizer and a coal miner who developed black lung in the mines of Ohio. He could not read or write but he could proudly recite parts of the Declaration of Independence and our national anthem. We should be alarmed by this poll because it shows a deep disconnection with this country and its protection. If you are not willing to defend this country, citizenship becomes a status of convenience; an opportunistic association that can be shed as easily as it is acquired. It is a commitment that extends little beyond annual tax obligations. Notably, the poll did not pose a question over what might be viewed as an unjustified war in another land like Vietnam. This question asked about an invasion of our country. Indeed, despite the opposition to Vietnam, many Democrats and liberals still felt obligated to answer the call for service when drafted. The poll shows a crisis of faith within the Democratic party, but also our country at large. People have lost faith in our common article of faith in the Constitution. That did not occur over night. There have been unrelenting attacks on our institutions and core values for years that ignore our countervailing successes. We have gone through terrible periods and faced terrible institutions and practices from slavery to segregation. However, we faced them as a people united in a common faith captured in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” We have not always lived up to those principles. Indeed, when those words were written, millions were left in slavery and millions were barred from voting, property ownership. and other basic rights of citizenship. However, we became better than we were due to a faith in ourselves and our common constitutional bound. This is just one poll and people can have different motivations in answering such questions. However, there was clearly a desire by many to convey this disconnection with the country in their answers that suggest something more than just impish responses. There has been a growing agnosticism regarding this country as many challenge our foundational institutions and values. It is captured in words of leaders like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who questioned the very need for the Supreme Court when it was not ruling in line with her own views: “How much does the current structure benefit us? And I don’t think it does.” That is a worthy debate to have and our Constitution protects all sides in having it. Yet, there is an underlying message that, because our institutions did not produce the results demanded by Ocasio-Cortez, we are told to scrap them. Elie Mystal, who writes for the Nation and Above the Law, called the Constitution “kind of trash.” In his new book, “Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution,” Mystal says that we should just ignore what the Framers thought or said. When asked “if are you arguing that the Constitution needs to be scrapped altogether?” Mystal said he would be “all for” a move to “throw out” the Constitution. Others, including lawyers, agreed with Mystal and declared “the Constitution is trash.” It is a crisis of faith shown in academics like Georgetown Professor Eddie Glaude insisting that we need to scrap what we have and be “refounded” rather than “tinker around the edges while people are dying.” He insists that, despite the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement and anti-discrimination laws, it is hopeless to expect the system to change: “At every moment when a new America seems to be about to be born, the umbilical cord of white supremacy is wrapped around the baby’s neck, choking the life out of it. ” The curious aspect of such comments is that we are constantly being reborn as a people. Our Constitution created an experiment in self-governance that remains a work in progress. However, it does not guarantee that you simply get what you want or you can “throw out” the Constitution like Mystal’s unwanted trash. The people of Ukraine have given the world a symbol of defiance and faith. That is a country that has been deeply divided in the past and only gained its independence in 1991. Vladimir Putin clearly counted on many opting to stand aside rather than stand up for their young nation. Instead, opposing parties and leaders stood together and united in their common identity as Ukrainians. It appears from this poll that many of us have lost that capacity for faith and sacrifice. Many are unwilling to take that same leap of faith in our system and each other. President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat who was decorated for his bravery in World War II, famously declared in 1961: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” The question is whether Americans are willing to answer the same call today. Tyler Durden Mon, 03/14/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 14th, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email:, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

An Industry-Backed Group Thinks the Metaverse Can Avoid the Ills of Social Media. Here’s How

The OASIS Consortium, a think tank that brings together execs of metaverse platforms, published some of the first comprehensive safety standards for Web 3. A version of this article was published in TIME’s newsletter Into the Metaverse. Subscribe for a weekly guide to the future of the Internet. You can find past issues of the newsletter here. Today marks the one-year anniversary of the 2021 insurrection, when thousands of protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol to dispute the election of President Joe Biden. They injured at least 140 officers, planted pipe bombs and vandalized lawmakers’ offices. Their actions ended in five deaths and tested the mettle of American democracy. Crucially, they organized on social media. An internal Facebook report even acknowledged that the company “helped incite the Capitol Insurrection” by failing to stop the spread of “Stop the Steal” groups and rhetoric. On Jan. 6, users were submitting reports of “false news” at a rate of nearly 40,000 per hour. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] In October, Facebook announced it was changing its name to Meta, signaling a full embrace of their belief in the world’s metaverse future. Many critics—including the whistleblower Frances Haugen—feared the move was little more than a tactical distraction from the many harms that have come from the company’s profit-driven decision-making. And Haugen, speaking with my colleague Billy Perrigo, worried that Facebook’s new immersive platform would only exacerbate its existing safety flaws, if left unregulated. Tiffany Xingyu Wang says she shares that concern. Wang is the chief strategy & marketing officer at the AI company Spectrum Labs and the founder of the think tank OASIS Consortium. The OASIS Consortium was founded last year, and pulls together leaders deeply invested in the metaverse: from gaming, dating apps and immersive tech platforms like Roblox, Riot Games and Wildlife Studios to address safety and privacy in Web 3. Wang believes in the power of the metaverse and the benefits of virtual worlds, but also fully understands the damage they could wreak if left to grow unchecked. “You can think of the Jan. 6 insurrection as a result of not having safety guardrails 15 years ago,” she tells me. “This time in the metaverse, either the impact will be much bigger, or the time to get to that catastrophic moment will be much shorter.” But Wang’s solution is not to seek government intervention—but instead work with metaverse builders to self-regulate and think about safety first in a way that most social media platforms did not. Today, the consortium published its first-ever Safety Standards, which it hopes will be a blueprint for how metaverse companies approach rules around safety going forward. “There’s no consensus or definition of good: Most platforms I talked with do not have a playbook as to how to do this,” Wang says. “And then that’s not even mentioning the emerging platforms. There’s a huge gap in terms of fundamental governance issues, which is not a tech problem.” You can find the full standards here. They cover how emerging tech companies should handle privacy, inclusion, interactions with governments and law enforcement; they recommend companies appoint an executive-level officer of trust and safety, partner with hate speech nonprofits and invest in moderation tools. OASIS’s ambition is that “hundreds or thousands” of companies will pledge to adopt the standards going forward. The standards also open the door for OASIS to preside over a grading system for platforms, similar to how buildings are graded on energy efficiency or how companies can be certified as B Corporations—signaling a commitment to social responsibility. Here are some of Wang’s biggest concerns—and potential solutions—that informed OASIS’ metaverse safety standards. Current online safety problems could be exponentially worse in the metaverse Some of the leading thinkers about the metaverse, including Matthew Ball, have listed a few key traits of the metaverse, including that it will be immersive (i.e., you go into a 3D internet instead of looking at it through screen), persistent (platforms never pause or resent, and you interact with them and their inhabitants in real time) and interoperable (you will be able to transfer your digital identity and goods across distinct platforms). While metaverse builders believe each of these traits will benefit users, Wang argues that each also poses significant risks. “Immersiveness increases the impact of any toxicity. Persistence increases the velocity of toxicity. And the interoperability part makes content moderation very hard, because toxicity is very industry-specific. Dating, gaming and social platforms, for example, can have different types of behaviors,” she says. Current social media platforms already have enough trouble tamping down on hate speech, while Facebook video moderators have spoken out about suffering from trauma and burnout from having to watch hours of harrowing content daily. The OASIS Safety Standards stipulate that platforms should spend ample resources from the jump to define, and then prevent hate speech, abuse, and other forms of toxicity from being able to enter immersive digital spaces. The use of AI to rapidly and accurately track misbehavior will be crucial, but must be supported by an actual team of people that grapples with false positives, grey areas and user appeals, Wang says. The adoption of rigorous safety rules will be an uphill battle In the tech world, safety and privacy have long been afterthoughts in favor of revenue, growth and innovation. For many years, one of Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite mottos, for instance, was “move fast and break things.” The grave flaws in this approach were revealed in the Facebook Papers—leaked internal reports—that showed Facebook deprioritized the fight against misinformation, allowing propaganda and misinformation to spread. Wang predicts this profit strategy for metaverse platforms will be far less successful, because of the uphill battle they face to gain new adopters and existing suspicions surrounding the space. If platforms are plagued by safety and privacy concerns from the jump, then “users will not come because they hear it’s toxic: Imagine 4chan and 8chan on the metaverse,” she says. “When it becomes so physically impactful, you will have more reasons for regulators to step in. The government will just shut it down. So safety is key to the survival of the metaverse.” But despite the publishing of the Facebook Papers and the waves of bad press around the company, Meta’s VR app Oculus was the most-downloaded app in the U.S. on Christmas Day. Many of the top metaverse and gaming platforms–including Decentraland, Fortnite, or Twitch–have yet to pledge to adopt the standards. The metaverse will have even more of your personal data Digital companies already track vast amounts of data about us for their own gain. This dynamic, as the journalist Franklin Foer writes in World Without Mind, “provides the basis for invisible discrimination; it is used to influence our choices, both our habits of consumption and our intellectual habits.” Wang says that the data collection in a 3D world could be even more dangerous. Virtual platforms might rely on users having high-quality cameras and microphones in their rooms, and could theoretically track all of movements and purchases across virtual worlds. “The volume of PII, or personal identifiable information, a platform can collect is staggering,” she says. “It’s an issue that keeps me awake.” So later this year, Wang says that OASIS will launch a separate privacy board to deal specifically with this issue and devise guidelines for metaverse platforms. Representation is a key aspect of safety Some metaverse optimists argue Web 3 will help usher in some new utopian, discrimination-free, post-race world. Wang, though, points to an MIT and Stanford study that showed that AI facial recognition worked significantly better for light-skinned men than dark-skinned women. “The machines discriminate,” she says. “If the code of conduct for a platform is written by a very specific privileged group of the society, then it’s impossible for you to be inclusive and cautious about what potential racism and hate speech could happen against underprivileged groups.” The OASIS standards stipulate, then, that companies need diverse hiring practices, especially when it comes to staffers who label and categorize data and moderator content. Pledges to do good aren’t enough There are already several companies that have pledged to use the OASIS standards at its launch, including the gaming platform Roblox, the music streaming company Pandora/Sirius XM, the livestreaming and social networking conglomerate The Meet Group, and the mobile gaming company Wildlife Studios. But Wang is well aware that promises alone are far from adequate. The next step will be to hold platforms accountable when they make mistakes or aren’t living up to their promised standards. That begins with a grade assessment system, which OASIS hopes to roll out in the second quarter of 2023 in conjunction with audit firms. “A company can request grades to very specifically know where they are, so they can actually improve their practices internally,” Wang says. Geoff Cook, the CEO of the Meet Group and a member of OASIS’s safety advisory board, says he looks forward to the formal process of certification and implementing any suggested policy changes that might arise. “​​The work of keeping our communities safe is never over,” he said in an email. OASIS also plans to work with international governments and agencies to distribute the standards. The think tank already has opened up a dialogue with the Australian government, for example. In a statement, Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, wrote that “pairing our interactive self-assessment with the Oasis User Safety Standards has so much promise in helping to build a digitally sustainable future.” But Wang hopes that the companies of Web 3 will first start with intensive self-regulation. “People are reaching this point of collective consciousness that the current web is not sustainable,” she says. “The role of OASIS is to foster a healthy conversation with governments and private sectors who want to self-regulate.” The standards will be ever-evolving Given the speed at which technology surrounding the metaverse is developing, Wang says it is crucial for the OASIS safety standards to be reviewed biannually. Wang says the think tank will take a “multi-stakeholder approach” to continually tweak its rules; she mentioned deepfakes, in which video or audio files are falsified or manipulated, as a particular area that needs addressing. “We started to talk with nonprofits who give us very specific advice in certain areas. We haven’t really fully looked into deepfakes because the applications and tech are evolving very fast,” she says. Green energy standards are a blueprint for tech’s self-regulation The adaptation of safety standards like those from OASIS may seem like an impossible goal, given the toxicity of the current web and the libertarian bent from many tech pioneers. But for a glimmer of optimism, Wang points to the way that the norms around clean energy have recently shifted. “Fifteen years ago, I was a clean energy investor, when mining coal, oil and gas was mainstream,” she says. “And look at where we are today. Just like LEED energy efficient buildings became the de facto standard for how we build buildings, I want safety, privacy and inclusion to be three core pillars to how we operate in a digital society.” Subscribe to Into the Metaverse for a weekly guide to the future of the Internet. Join TIMEPieces on Twitter and Discord.....»»

Category: topSource: timeJan 6th, 2022

"Red Wall" Tory MPs are fed up with Boris Johnson after weeks of bad headlines, tax rises, and high-profile U-turns

Johnson was elected in 2019 promising to "level up" the country, but Conservatives in northern England tell Insider he is yet to follow through. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Tory MPs in northern England are frustrated by weeks of botched policy announcements by Number 10. They say Boris Johnson's government needs to improve communication and stop scoring own goals. One MP said there was "not disappointment as much as anger" about one recent botched announcement. Conservative MPs holding "Red Wall" seats in northern England are growing increasingly frustrated by weeks of negative newspaper headlines, high profile U-turns, and tax rises from Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office, some of them told Insider.Johnson was elected in 2019 promising to "level up" the country, a pledge that won the Conservatives seats in lower-income parts of England where they had never won before. It was a result delivered by voters who supported his vision of delivering Brexit, tackling crime, and reducing immigration.Now there is concern that the party has done significant damage to its reputation following botched announcements on several policies in recent weeks, including railways and the environment — as well a sleaze row involving a Conservative grandee, which dominated headlines for weeks and underscored existing tensions between younger and older Tory MPs.Frustration from Conservative MPs has been particularly directed at what some of them described as Downing Street's poor communication and insensitivity to issues that disproportionately affect voters in poor parts of northern England.'Not disappointment as much as anger'One recent example was a vote on changes to social care, which dozens of Tory MPs refused to support because it would force people to sell their homes to pay for social care.One Conservative MP representing a seat in northwest England, who refused to support the bill, told Insider it could result in many poorer pensioners with lower-value homes forced to sell."If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck. It doesn't sound fair and it isn't fair. A lot of homes in the north are worth less than £100,000," the MP said.A second MP linked to the Northern Research Group, which represents the interests of Conservative MPs with seats in northern England, highlighted a recent botched announcement on railways. Both of these MPs requested anonymity to speak candidly, but their identities are known to Insider.Johnson in November had committed a further £90 billion of public spending on railways — a move which they said should have generated positive headlines.But instead, the prime minister faced intense criticism for cancelling most of the stretch of the HS2 high-speed rail line in northeast England, and outrage from many of his own northern MPs in northern constituencies affected by the move."There was a lot of — not disappointment as much as anger over how the rail announcements were dealt with," the MP told Insider."Underneath it all, it was a really good news story which turned into anything but."A third example was the Environment Bill. The government was forced into an embarrassing climbdown in October on an amendment to the bill following a public backlash when the government rejected an amendment that would have placed a legal duty on water companies not to pump raw sewage into rivers."There's actually a lot of good stuff in that bill," the first MP, who was elected to his seat in 2019, told Insider. "But what headlines did we get for it? 'Tory MPs vote to pump shit into rivers.'"'Weird to be linked to a party of high taxes'Another problem facing Johnson is the fact that many of his MPs elected to northern seats in 2019 share Johnson's social vision — like being tough on crime, restoring civic pride, and supporting Brexit — but not his economic values.Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to privately oppose Johnson's recent insistence on tax rises and preference for big state spending — particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic — and many MPs share Sunak's view."It's weird to be linked to a party of high taxes," said the MP elected in 2019.Anand Menon, a professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King's College London, told Insider that tensions over taxes and state spending were inevitable given the broad coalition within the parliamentary Conservative party since Johnson won the 2019 general election."There are genuine differences of opinion about economic policy," Menon said."What Johnson did was create a social-values coalition. But the price of that is, if you're talking about specifics of economic policy, there are going to be problems."Johnson's leadership is not under threat for now. Even the MPs who are privately critical of him know that he is an election-winner, and many of those who won seats in 2019 know they wouldn't have been elected without Johnson's leadership.But he is also under significant pressure to deliver on the vast array of promises he has made to his members of parliament in northern England, and without action soon, his leadership could face a sterner test.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 7th, 2021

What Follows US Hegemony

What Follows US Hegemony Authored by Vijay Prashad via, On 24 February 2023, the Chinese Foreign Ministry released a twelve-point plan entitled ‘China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis’. This ‘peace plan’, as it has been called, is anchored in the concept of sovereignty, building upon the well-established principles of the United Nations Charter (1945) and the Ten Principles from the Bandung Conference of African and Asian states held in 1955. The plan was released two days after China’s senior diplomat Wang Yi visited Moscow, where he met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Russia’s interest in the plan was confirmed by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov shortly after the visit: ‘Any attempt to produce a plan that would put the [Ukraine] conflict on a peace track deserves attention. We are considering the plan of our Chinese friends with great attention’. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the plan hours after it was made public, saying that he would like to meet China’s President Xi Jinping as soon as possible to discuss a potential peace process. France’s President Emmanuel Macron echoed this sentiment, saying that he would visit Beijing in early April. There are many interesting aspects of this plan, notably a call to end all hostilities near nuclear power plants and a pledge by China to help fund the reconstruction of Ukraine. But perhaps the most interesting feature is that a peace plan did not come from any country in the West, but from Beijing. When I read ‘China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis’, I was reminded of ‘On the Pulse of Morning’, a poem published by Maya Angelou in 1993, the rubble of the Soviet Union before us, the terrible bombardment of Iraq by the United States still producing aftershocks, the tremors felt in Afghanistan and Bosnia. The title of this newsletter, ‘Birth Again the Dream of Global Peace and Mutual Respect’, sits at the heart of the poem. Angelou wrote alongside the rocks and the trees, those who outlive humans and watch us destroy the world. Two sections of the poem bear repeating: Each of you, a bordered country, Delicate and strangely made proud, Yet thrusting perpetually under siege. Your armed struggles for profit Have left collars of waste upon My shore, currents of debris upon my breast. Yet today I call you to my riverside, If you will study war no more. Come, Clad in peace, and I will sing the songs The Creator gave to me when I and the Tree and the rock were one. Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your Brow and when you yet knew you still Knew nothing. The River sang and sings on. … History, despite its wrenching pain Cannot be unlived, but if faced With courage, need not be lived again. History cannot be forgotten, but it need not be repeated. That is the message of Angelou’s poem and the message of the study we released last week, Eight Contradictions of the Imperialist ‘Rules-Based Order’. In October 2022, Cuba’s Centre for International Policy Research (CIPI) held its 7th Conference on Strategic Studies, which studied the shifts taking place in international relations, with an emphasis on the declining power of the Western states and the emergence of a new confidence in the developing world. There is no doubt that the United States and its allies continue to exercise immense power over the world through military force and control over financial systems. But with the economic rise of several developing countries, with China at their head, a qualitative change can be felt on the world stage. An example of this trend is the ongoing dispute amongst the G20 countries, many of which have refused to line up against Moscow despite pressure by the United States and its European allies to firmly condemn Russia for the war in Ukraine. This change in the geopolitical atmosphere requires precise analysis based on the facts. To that end, our latest dossier, Sovereignty, Dignity, and Regionalism in the New International Order (March 2023), produced in collaboration with CIPI, brings together some of the thinking about the emergence of a new global dispensation that will follow the period of US hegemony. The text opens with a foreword by CIPI’s director, José R. Cabañas Rodríguez, who makes the point that the world is already at war, namely a war imposed on much of the world (including Cuba) by the United States and its allies through blockades and economic policies such as sanctions that strangle the possibilities for development. As Greece’s former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said, coups these days ‘do not need tanks. They achieve the same result with banks’. The US is attempting to maintain its position of ‘single master’ through an aggressive military and diplomatic push both in Ukraine and Taiwan, unconcerned about the great destabilisation this has inflicted upon the world. This approach was reflected in US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin’s admission that ‘We want to see Russia weakened’ and in US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul’s statement that ‘Ukraine today – it’s going to be Taiwan tomorrow’. It is a concern about this destabilisation and the declining fortunes of the West that has led most of the countries in the world to refuse to join efforts to isolate Russia. As some of the larger developing countries, such as China, Brazil, India, Mexico, Indonesia, and South Africa, pivot away from reliance upon the United States and its Western allies, they have begun to discuss a new architecture for a new world order. What is quite clear is that most of these countries – despite great differences in the political traditions of their respective governments – now recognise that the United States ‘rules-based international order’ is no longer able to exercise the authority it once had. The actual movement of history shows that the world order is moving from one anchored by US hegemony to one that is far more regional in character. US policymakers, as part of their fearmongering, suggest that China wants to take over the world, along the grain of the ‘Thucydides Trap’ argument that when a new aspirant to hegemony appears on the scene, it tends to result in war between the emerging power and existing great power. However, this argument is not based on facts. Rather than seek to generate additional poles of power – in the mould of the United States – and build a ‘multipolar’ world, developing countries are calling for a world order rooted in the UN Charter as well as strong regional trade and development systems. ‘This new internationalism can only be created – and a period of global Balkanisation avoided’, we write in our latest dossier, ‘by building upon a foundation of mutual respect and strength of regional trade systems, security organisations, and political formations’. Indicators of this new attitude are present in the discussions taking place in the Global South about the war in Ukraine and are reflected in the Chinese plan for peace. Our dossier analyses at some length this moment of fragility for US power and its ‘rules-based international order’. We trace the revival of multilateralism and regionalism, which are key concepts of the emerging world order. The growth of regionalism is reflected in the creation of a host of vital regional bodies, from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), alongside increasing regional trade (with the BRICS bloc being a kind of ‘regionalism plus’ for our period). Meanwhile, the emphasis on returning to international institutions for global decision-making, as evidenced by the formation of the Group of Friends in Defence of the UN Charter, for example, illustrates the reinvigorated desire for multilateralism. The United States remains a powerful country, but it has not come to terms with the immense changes taking place in the world order. It must temper its belief in its ‘manifest destiny’ and recognise that it is nothing more than another country amongst the 193 members states of the United Nations. The great powers – including the United States – will either find ways to accommodate and cooperate for the common good, or they will all collapse together. At the start of the pandemic, the head of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged the countries of the world to be more collaborative and less confrontational, saying that ‘this is the time for solidarity, not stigma’ and repeating, in the years since, that nations must ‘work together across ideological divides to find common solutions to common problems’. These wise words must be heeded. Tyler Durden Sun, 03/19/2023 - 23:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt11 hr. 47 min. ago

Superior Group of Companies, Inc. (NASDAQ:SGC) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript

Superior Group of Companies, Inc. (NASDAQ:SGC) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript March 15, 2023 Operator: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to Superior Group of Companies Fourth Quarter 2022 Conference Call. With us today are Michael Benstock, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike Koempel, the Chief Financial Officer. As a reminder, this conference call is being […] Superior Group of Companies, Inc. (NASDAQ:SGC) Q4 2022 Earnings Call Transcript March 15, 2023 Operator: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to Superior Group of Companies Fourth Quarter 2022 Conference Call. With us today are Michael Benstock, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike Koempel, the Chief Financial Officer. As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. This call may contain forward-looking statements regarding the company’s plans, initiatives and strategies and the anticipated financial performance of the company, including, but not limited to sales and revenue. Such statements are based upon management’s current expectations, projections, estimates and assumptions. Words such as will, expect, believe, anticipate, think, outlook, hope and variations of such words and similar expressions identify such word forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause future results to differ materially from those suggested by the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties are further disclosed in the company’s periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, but not limited to, the company’s annual report on Form 10-K and the quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. Shareholders, potential investors and other readers are urged to consider these factors carefully in evaluating the forward-looking statements made herein, and are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. The company does not undertake to update the forward-looking statements contained herein except as required by law. With that, I will turn the floor over to Mr. Benstock. Please go ahead. Michael Benstock: Thank you for your introduction and welcome everyone to our 2022 earnings call. I’ll begin today by sharing the highlights of our Q4 results. I’ll then discuss the performance for each of our three business segments, providing an update on the macro environment and our strategy to grow the business moving forward. After that, I’ll turn it over to Mike to walk us through the financial results in greater detail, and to provide our outlook for 2023. Mike and I will then be available for Q&A. We finished 2022 with continued top line growth in the fourth quarter. Consolidated revenues were $149 million, up 5% over the prior-year quarter, driven by growth in both our branded products and contact center segments. As a result, we achieved full year sales of $579 million in 2022 which was near the top end of our annual guidance range. Our consolidated fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA was $3 million, down from $8 million in the fourth quarter last year, primarily due to an incremental inventory write down of $6 million in our healthcare apparel segment. Let’s take a closer look now at our quarterly results by segments beginning with healthcare apparel. Revenues came in at $26 million relative to $31 million, the prior year quarter reflecting of the ongoing stock conditions of the broader healthcare market, healthcare apparel EBITDA declined by $8 million compared to prior year quarter, primarily due to the aforementioned inventory write-down. Based on our lower purchasing levels implemented in mid ’22, and adjustments store inventory valuation, we expect to see better inventory equilibrium by the end of the year. Looking ahead, our strategy involves capturing new customers in new markets primarily through an emphasis, an increased emphasis I should say on digital growth, including the launch of our own direct-to-consumer website during the second quarter. While we recognize that will take time and investment to build consumer awareness and demand, the expansion of digital within our omnichannel approach will enable us to grow our healthcare, apparel business overall with leaner inventories and a revitalized customer facing business strategy including an emphasis on digital growth. We’re confident in the strong growth prospects for healthcare apparel and our own ability to capture market share and prove profitability over time. We provide the widest range of products in the market, with more than 2 million essential caregivers wearing our highly recognizable brands every day. Branded products, our largest segment generated revenues of $102 million during the fourth quarter, which was up 7% year-over-year benefiting from a full quarter’s contribution from the Sutter’s Mill acquisition made during the fourth quarter of 2021. As well as the guardian acquisition that was completed in May of 2022. Organic demand declined mid-single digits, due in part to subdued demand in the current uncertain economic environment. Fourth quarter EBITDA was $11 million, up from $6 million last year, driven by higher sales, improved gross margin rates and laughing a PPE inventory right down last year partially offset by an increase in SG&A from investments in talent and technology to support future growth. Branded products is an attractive market highly fragmented, with a total addressable size of $26 billion domestically. Our compelling strategy is to continue to grow our very modest market share of less than 2% by offering unique, customized and high-quality products. Our contact center segment had another strong quarter with revenues of $21 million up 22% over the fourth quarter of 2021. Fourth quarter EBITDA of $4 million was flat to last year as investments in SG&A related to talent, technology and infrastructure to support future growth offset, increase in sales and gross margin. On a full year basis, contact centers finished 2022 with strong annual top-line growth of 31%, achieving our highest EBITDA margin with an SGC of 22%. With our investments in infrastructure combined with a strong pipeline of prospective customers, we continue to see Contact Centers as an exciting and profitable growth business going forward. I’ll now turn the call over to Mike to take us through our financial results and outlook for 2023. Mike? Mike Koempel: Thank you, Michael, and thanks everyone for joining the call. I’ll start by walking through our financial results and then I’ll turn to our initial full-year outlook. During the fourth quarter, SGC generated consolidated revenues of $149 million, up 5% from $142 million the prior year quarter. Our gross margin was 30.2% for the quarter, down 80 basis points year-over-year due to the $6 million incremental inventory write down for Healthcare Apparel. Excluding the incremental charge, our gross margin would have been 34%. SG&A expense was 29.8% of sales which sequentially improved from 32% in the third quarter, but was higher than the fourth quarter of 2021 at 26.7%. The improved expense trend from third quarter benefited from an adjustment to employee expense accruals, as well as improved leverage on higher sales and the benefit of cost reductions. The year-over-year increase as a percent of sales was due to continued deleverage from the decline in Healthcare Apparel sales as well as our continued investments in talent and infrastructure, especially within Branded Products and Contact Centers capitalize on compelling future growth opportunities. Our fourth quarter interest expense was $2.2 million, as compared to $295,000 in the fourth quarter of last year, driven by a combination of higher interest rates and a higher average debt balance outstanding during the quarter. Net income for the quarter was $2 million or $0.14 per diluted share, as compared to net income of $4 million or $0.27 per diluted share in a year ago quarter. During the fourth quarter, the company sold its corporate office building for $5 million in cash proceeds, resulting in a pretax non-operating gain of $3 million. Excluding the gain in the prior year fourth quarter’s pension termination charge, the fourth quarter 2022 net loss was $1 million or a $0.06 loss per share, compared to net income of $5 million or $0.31 per diluted share the prior year period. The decrease in adjusted results was primarily driven by the incremental inventory write down and increased interest expense. Turning to the balance sheet. Cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2022 increased to $18 million from $9 million last year, due in part to the sale of our corporate office near year end. In terms of our debt position, our net leverage ratio of 3.85 times, our covenant EBITDA remains elevated. Based on the fourth quarter inventory charge and the calendarization of our 2023 forecast, it is more likely than not that we will exceed our net leverage covenant ratio of 4 times covenant EBITDA. As a result, we have initiated discussions with the lending agent on ways to address a potential amendment should it be needed in order to maintain compliance throughout the year. We will continue to focus on cash flow enhancement by improving our working capital position, particularly by optimizing our inventory levels within our Healthcare Apparel segment as well as scrutinizing our operating expenses and capital expenditures. I’ll conclude my prepared remarks with our initial financial outlook for 2023. Overall, we expect current slow economic conditions to persist and are cautiously optimistic that business conditions will gradually improve throughout the year. With that in mind, we are forecasting full year 2023 sales to be between $585 million and $595 million versus 2022 sales of $579 million. And earnings per diluted share between $0.92 and $0.97, compared to adjusted earnings per diluted share of $0.62 in 2022, which reflected significant inventory write downs. At the segment level, our 2023 forecast assumes that healthcare apparel sales will be up low single digits versus last year, and will gradually improve throughout the year as inventory levels and customer demand returned to normalize levels. For branded products, we estimate segment sales to be flat to download single digits, as we expect the continuation of the challenging market conditions from the fourth quarter of 2022 into the first half of the year, with meaningful growth in the back half of 2023. Lastly, we expect the contact center segments to continue to grow well into double digits, consistent with a fourth quarter performance reported today. Given these expectations for our three business segments, we expect our 2023 results to be relatively back end loaded as underlying market conditions gradually returned towards equilibrium. We are confident in our ability to execute on our strategic plan to capitalize on multiple growth opportunities and enhance long-term shareholder value. That concludes our prepared remarks. And operator if you could please open the lines, we’d be happy to take questions. See also 10 Value Stocks with Big Buybacks and 25 Wealthiest Countries in the World by GDP per capita. Q&A Session Follow Superior Group Of Companies Inc. (NASDAQ:SGC) Follow Superior Group Of Companies Inc. (NASDAQ:SGC) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: We will now begin the question-and-answer session. . And your first question will come from Kevin Steinke with Barrington Research. Please go ahead. Kevin Steinke : Hi, good afternoon. I wanted to start off by asking about the outlook for 2023. You mentioned that you expect lower economic conditions to persist. But at the same time, you express some optimism that business conditions should gradually improve throughout the year for healthcare apparel. And that momentum will build and branded products leading to significant growth in the second half of the year. So, I’m just, if you could discuss more kind of line of sight to that improvement throughout the year or what do you think will drive that improvement? Are you seeing a clearing up of inventory in healthcare or building pipeline and branded products? I guess any color you can offer on that, overall outlook for 2023 would be helpful. Michael Benstock: Unfortunately, the answer is going to be a little bit longer because of the three segments. So, it’s a little different in each of our businesses. branded products has been affected mostly by people holding back on buying marketing budgets being curtailed or being put on pause. Mostly, we have a lot of clients in the tech space and gig economy that have experienced some mass layoffs and not spending a lot of money. But, as the year goes on, they’ll say this about each of our businesses. As the economy improves, which is expected later on in the year. Certainly, in the second half, we expect to benefit from that improvement as well as there will be pent up demand. You can only hold back so long before you have to buy uniforms for employees, and before you have to start gifting your employees and looking at how you create brand allegiance among your customers. And people have held back now for some time. We can’t control the macro environment. Obviously, we all read the diverse opinions about what to expect in 2023 and certainly the most, the latest banking crisis, who knows how that might impact things in the future? Now, when you get to our call center business, we certainly feel strongly that we’ll have continued growth throughout the year, the demand is very strong. It’s not weakening, because of the current economic conditions. In fact, it’s strengthening and typically in a recession, and especially a recession, where it’s so hard to hire in the United States right now, which is an entry level positions, which is kind of a unique situation. We’re seeing a demand, like we haven’t seen before. Healthcare apparel, it’s all a question of timing of when we’re able to completely right size our inventories, move past, what we’re sitting with, still in inventory, turning a lot of that to cash. And being able to present a lot of newness. Keep in mind that third quarter and fourth quarter will be slightly impacted by our favorably by our direct-to-consumer launch that we spoke about, as well as our continued omnichannel approach in those businesses, but we can control only what we can control. Our view of things is it’s going to be a tough year, but it’s going to be better in the second half of the year, then it will be in the first half. Kevin Steinke : All right. Thanks for the insight there. And also following up just on the outlook for 2023. You can maybe talk about assumptions you’d have baked in for operating margin and interest expense, do you think you’d get some margin expansion based on some of the cost savings actions you’ve taken? How meaningful the bike do you expect interest expense to be I guess?.....»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyMar 18th, 2023

Dozens of Senate Republicans oppose overturning the law that made the disastrous 2003 Iraq invasion possible

27 GOP senators voted Thursday against opening debate on a bill repealing the decades-old authorizations for the use of military force against Iraq. GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Tom Cotton of Arkansas were among those that voted against beginning debate on Iraq War AUMF repeal on Thursday.Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images; Drew Angerer/Getty Images; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images The Senate began the process on Thursday to repeal the 1991 and 2002 Iraq War AUMFs. Dozens of Republicans are voting against the bipartisan measure despite the war long being over. Insider spoke to several Republican senators this week about why they're opposed. With the 20th anniversary of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq looming, the US Senate has begun the process of revoking the laws that allowed the United States to wage war against the Middle Eastern state in both the 1990s and 2000s.On Thursday, the Senate voted to begin debate on a bill sponsored by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Republican Sen. Todd Young of Indiana that would repeal both the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force (AUMF) against Iraq.The measure passed overwhelmingly, with 19 Republicans — ranging from self-styled nationalists like Sens. Josh Hawley and JD Vance to moderates such as Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — joining all Democrats in support of the bill. The White House has also endorsed the bill, saying it "would have no impact on current US military operations." President Joe Biden, who voted in favor of both the 2001 AUMF and 2002 AUMF as a senator, publicly expressed support for scrapping post-9/11 laws that sparked "forever wars" shortly after he entered the White House.But 27 Republican senators voted against beginning the debate, signaling their opposition to the idea."It should be easy to remove," quipped Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a supporter of repeal. "But some Republicans will vote to continue a war that's been over for 20 years."The Senate is expected to vote on amendments to the bill over the course of the next two weeks, and it's possible that some who voted against the measure today may change their minds — and that some who voted to begin the debate could do the same.The 2002 AUMF granted President George W. Bush the legal authority to launch the invasion of Iraq in 2003, while the 1991 AUMF did the same for the US invasion of Iraq during the Gulf War.The House easily passed separate bills repealing both the 1991 and 2002 AUMF in June 2021, when the chamber was controlled by Democrats; the Senate never voted on the measure that year.It now remains unclear whether the measure would be taken up by the Republican-led House, though dozens of House Republicans supported the idea in 2021.So why did those 27 Republicans vote no, despite essentially unanimous agreement that the war in Iraq has come to a close?'The world continues to be a troubled place'In interviews with Insider at the Capitol this week, Republican senators acknowledged that though the Iraq War has concluded, they believed the US still needed to ensure it has the ability to wage war in Iraq given the operation of Iranian-backed militias in the country and the looming threat of terrorism."The world continues to be a troubled place, and I don't want to remove any of the authorities that have been, or may be, relied upon to defend our interests," said Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.Many specifically cited the January 2020 killing of Qasem Soleimani, Iran's top general, in Iraq as an example of why it's important to maintain the AUMFs. The Trump administration offered up the 2002 AUMF as partial justification for the Soleimani strike, a controversial military decision that pushed the US and Iran to the brink of war.  "I don't want to do anything that reduces the President's ability to kill somebody like Soleimani," said Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida. "That's probably what I care about the most."Legal scholars have challenged the notion that the 2002 AUMF could be employed to vindicate the killing of an Iranian general, given the law's original intent was to open the door for the US to take action against Saddam Hussein's government. The 2003 Iraq invasion also remains among the most criticized US foreign policy decisions in modern history. The invasion, which destabilized the region and contributed to the rise of ISIS, was launched under false, debunked allegations that Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Insider that it would only make sense to repeal the AUMFs "when conditions are different in the Middle East than they are right now." Nonetheless, the Pentagon increasingly looks to China and Russia as the primary challenges to US national security and has shifted attention away from countering jihadist groups based in the Middle East. Yet some senators who are traditionally defense hawks indicated a willingness to debate the issue.Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said she looked forward to the amendments process, when senators may be able to offer provisions that clarify that the US can still target Iranian militias."I'm not wedded to either side yet," said Ernst, saying the US does "need to maintain some flexibilities" in the Middle East.For Sen. Paul, repealing the Iraq War AUMFs — which he called "symbolic" — isn't going far enough.The Kentucky Republican told Insider that he was considering offering an amendment to repeal the 2001 AUMF, which was passed just days after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks — with a single dissenting vote. The law authorized the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons." Paul castigated Democrats for opposing repeal of the 2001 authorization, arguing it "authorizes, according to several presidents, wars in 20 different countries."The 2001 AUMF opened the door for the invasion of Afghanistan, launching the longest war in US history. The law has been a linchpin of the US government's global war on terror for decades, and has been used by every president since George W. Bush to justify counterterrorism operations in 22 countries.Critics of the 2001 AUMF have argued that its language is too broad and it grants presidents a blank check to wage endless wars, while eroding Congress's constitutionally-enshrined war powers.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 16th, 2023

Beware The Nonresponsive Response To Tucker Carlson

Beware The Nonresponsive Response To Tucker Carlson Authored by Chris Bray via American Greatness, This is such a great moment. I just realized what Tucker Carlson versus “the swamp” teaches us. I’m going to suggest that you ask yourself a single question and see if you can answer it, but give me a minute to get there. So, if a girlfriend says to her boyfriend, “I know you went home with Tiffany after her shift on Thursday night, and you had sex with her in her living room three times,” and then the boyfriend starts screaming and waving his arms around and shouting, “Oh right! You think I just go around having sex with everyone all the time! You’re so crazy!” Then, in fact, that boyfriend went home with Tiffany after her shift on Thursday night, and he had sex with her in her living room three times. Compare this possible response: “I was with Brian on Thursday night, hanging out at the gas station and listening to Yo La Tengo on our headphones, and I haven’t seen Tiffany since that thing at the dog park.” Right? Now, without revisiting details, Tucker Carlson made three claims when he aired January 6 footage on his Fox News program Monday night: 1) The Viking-horned Jacob Chansley, who was charged with “violent entry” to the Capitol, and who was later depicted as having fought his way through the building to storm the Senate chambers, in fact walked the hall calmly in the company of police officers who didn’t try to stop him, and who in fact tried to open doors for him. 2) Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who was depicted by the January 6 committee as a coward who ran, alone, from the mob, in fact, followed police directions and left an area with many other legislators. 3) Officer Brian Sicknick, who has repeatedly been depicted as an officer who was murdered by violent insurrectionists in the Capitol on January 6, can be seen walking around unharmed in the Capitol after he is supposed to have been killed. Also, Carlson explicitly said that some people were violent at the Capitol on January 6. So watch what the political class is saying about Carlson’s broadcast: Republican Senator Thom Tillis reacts to Tucker Carlson releasing never before seen J6 footage: "I think it's bullsh*t." Welcome to the DC Uniparty. — Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) March 7, 2023 Thom Tillis isn’t responding to Carlson’s narrow, specific fact claims; he’s responding to his cartoon version, steamrolling details and flattening the thing he’s supposedly talking about. George W. Bush was especially fond of this maneuver, but most politicians use it all the time: “Some say,” they say, and then say something that no one is saying, and then pretend to respond to it. “Some say we should let the terrorists win, but Americans know that’s an irresponsible view.” If you respond to your critics by not responding to your critics but instead respond by inventing their position so you can attack your own rhetorical creation, you can’t respond to your critics. So ask yourself one thing: In all the post-broadcast ranting about the Tucker Carlson Menace—and let’s not kid ourselves, he may invade Poland at any moment—how many politicians and media figures have you heard specifically addressing Carlson’s three narrow fact claims about Chansley, Hawley, and Sicknick? When someone makes specific claims, and the responses are not specific, the response is not a response. It’s chaff, and it’s meant to cloud the air. How many times have we seen this maneuver? Q: You said the vaccines were 100 percent effective, and that everyone who gets them immediately becomes a dead end for the virus. Was that true? A: Ohh, I know that some people are anti-vaxxers who don’t believe in science, but I don’t have any patience for these conspiracy theories. It’s topic-shifting, quite thinly disguised. Again: When someone makes specific claims, and the responses are not specific, the response is not a response. But finally, one person actually did offer a specific response to one of Carlson’s specific claims, and it’s a response that swallows its own tail. The Washington Post quotes a memo from Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger, disputing the story about Chansley: The claim by Carlson that Capitol Police served as ‘tour guides’ for Jacob Chansley, the horn-wearing ‘QAnon Shaman,’ was ‘outrageous and false,’ Manger wrote. He said that Capitol Police were badly outnumbered on Jan. 6, and that, ‘Those officers did their best to use de-escalation tactics to try to talk rioters into getting each other to leave the building.’ [….] Some of the video aired by Carlson showed Chansley being accompanied by several Capitol Police officers as they walked through the hall during the riot. One of the officers was previously featured in a 2021 HBO documentary, ‘Four Hours at the Capitol,’ and said that ‘The sheer number of them compared to us, I knew ahead there was no way we could all get physical with them, so I took it upon myself to try to talk to them.’ The officer is then seen on video walking behind Chansley as Chansley walks into the Senate Chamber. We didn’t do that; also, we did do that, but it was a tactic. If the police didn’t try to stop Chansley from entering the Capitol and the Senate chambers because they felt outnumbered and were trying to prevent a confrontation, then the police didn’t try to stop Chansley from entering the Capitol and the Senate chambers. The thing presented as a claim that Carlson lied about concedes the exact thing that Carlson claimed, but then tries to explain it, but still just ends up conceding it. Take it from the Washington Post, in a supposed debunking: An officer said that he just talked to Chansley; then he walked into the Senate chambers with him. That’s what happened, and no one actually claims otherwise. Tyler Durden Thu, 03/09/2023 - 23:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMar 10th, 2023

BioMarin (BMRN) Provides FDA Filing Update for Gene Therapies

The FDA accepts BioMarin's (BMRN) label-expansion filing for Voxzogo to treat children under five years with achondroplasia. The agency extends the review period for Roctavian BLA. BioMarin BMRN announced multiple regulatory updates pertaining to its regulatory filings for its gene therapies with the FDA.Management announced that the FDA had accepted the supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA), seeking label expansion for Voxzogo (vosoritide) injection to treat children under five years with achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism.Voxzogo is currently approved in the United States for treating achondroplasia in children five years and older with open epiphyses (bone growth plates).Earlier in January, management had announced that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had validated the filing seeking label expansion for Voxzogo to treat children under two years with achondroplasia. The therapy is already approved in Europe to treat achondroplasia in children aged two years and older.If the therapy were to be approved for these two age groups in the United States and Europe, more than a thousand children suffering from achondroplasia would be eligible for treatment. This will likely boost BioMarin’s topline.Since its launch, Voxzogo has seen rapid uptake driven by strong prescription demand. BioMarin is seeking approvals for the drug across multiple new markets, which can boost drug sales. Following its approval, Voxzogo became the first medicine to treat achondroplasia. During 2022, Voxzogo generated sales worth $169 million, mainly driven by new patient initiations, which is encouraging for a newly launched drug. For 2023, management expects to record Voxzogo sales in the range of $330 million to $380 million, representing over 100% growth from the midpoint compared with the 2022 figure.Shares of BioMarin have declined 9.7% in the year so far compared to the industry’s 4.3% fall.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchIn a separate press release, BioMarin also announced that the FDA had extended the review period for the former’s BLA filing for Roctavian (valoctocogene roxaparvovec, or valrox) gene-therapy by another three months. The BLA is seeking approval for treating adults with severe hemophilia A. The final decision from the regulatory agency is now expected by the end of June 2023.This extension period was due to submission of three-year follow-up safety and efficacy data from the late-stage GENEr8-1 study supporting the BLA filing for Roctavian, which the FDA deemed as major amendment to the earlier filed data. This extension was in line with previously provided company guidance as management had previously advised stakeholders that submission of the said data is likely to extend the target date.Last September, management completed the refiling of the BLA to the FDA, seeking approval for valrox gene therapy to treat adult patients with severe hemophilia A. BioMarin previously submitted a BLA in 2019 for valrox to address hemophilia A. However, the FDA issued a complete response letter (CRL) to the BLA in 2020, citing dissatisfaction with the available data.Roctavian received conditional marketing authorization for hemophilia A in the European Union in August 2022. The Roctavian product launch is underway in Europe.For 2023, BioMarin expects Roctavian sales in the range of $100 million to $200 million. This guidance assumes a launch in the United States in 2023.BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. Price  BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. price | BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. Quote Zacks Rank & Stocks to ConsiderBioMarin currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).Some better-ranked stocks in the overall healthcare sector include Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation ADPT, ADC Therapeutics ADCT and CRISPR Therapeutics CRSP, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Estimates for Adaptive Biotechnologies’ 2023 loss per share have narrowed from $1.30 to $1.15 in the past 30 days. During the same period, the loss per share estimates for 2024 have narrowed from 99 cents to 94 cents. Shares of Adaptive Biotechnologies have risen 12.6% year-to-date.Earnings of Adaptive Biotechnologies beat estimates in three of the last four quarters and missed the mark on one occasion, the average surprise being 10.75%. In the last reported quarter, ADPT delivered an earnings surprise of 24.32%.In the past 30 days, estimates for ADC Therapeutics’ 2023 loss per share have narrowed from $2.69 to $2.43. During the same period, the loss per share estimates for 2024 have narrowed from $3.07 to $2.73. In the year so far, shares of ADC Therapeutics have declined 27.1%.Earnings of ADC Therapeutics beat estimates in three of the last four quarters while missing the mark on one occasion, witnessing a negative earnings surprise of 21.98%, on average. In the last reported quarter, ADC Therapeutics’ earnings beat estimates by 38.78%.In the past 30 days, estimates for CRISPR Therapeutics’ 2023 loss per share have narrowed from $8.21 to $7.31. Shares of CRISPR Therapeutics have risen 17.7% in the year-to-date period.Earnings of CRISPR Therapeutics beat estimates in two of the last four quarters while missing the mark on the other two occasions, witnessing an earnings surprise of 3.19%, on average. In the last reported quarter, CRISPR Therapeutics’ earnings beat estimates by 39.22%. This Little-Known Semiconductor Stock Could Be Your Portfolio’s Hedge Against Inflation Everyone uses semiconductors. But only a small number of people know what they are and what they do. If you use a smartphone, computer, microwave, digital camera or refrigerator (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg), you have a need for semiconductors. That’s why their importance can’t be overstated and their disruption in the supply chain has such a global effect. But every cloud has a silver lining. Shockwaves to the international supply chain from the global pandemic have unearthed a tremendous opportunity for investors. And today, Zacks' leading stock strategist is revealing the one semiconductor stock that stands to gain the most in a new FREE report. It's yours at no cost and with no obligation.>>Yes, I Want to Help Protect My Portfolio During the RecessionWant the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (BMRN): Free Stock Analysis Report ADC Therapeutics SA (ADCT): Free Stock Analysis Report Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation (ADPT): Free Stock Analysis Report CRISPR Therapeutics AG (CRSP): Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksMar 8th, 2023

BJ"s Wholesale (BJ) Queued for Q4 Earnings: Factors to Note

BJ's Wholesale's (BJ) fourth-quarter results are likely to reflect the positive impact of better pricing, private-label offerings, merchandise initiatives and digital solutions. BJ's Wholesale Club Holdings, Inc. BJ is likely to register an increase in the top line when it reports fourth-quarter fiscal 2022 results on Mar 9, before market open. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues is pegged at $4,809 million, indicating growth of 10.4% from the prior-year reported figure.The bottom line of this operator of membership warehouse clubs is expected to increase year over year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fourth-quarter earnings per share has been stable at 88 cents over the past 30 days and suggests an increase of 10% from the year-ago period.We expect total revenues to be up 9.6% year over year to $4,776 million and the bottom line to increase 5.5% to 84 cents a share.BJ's Wholesale has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 18.2%, on average. In the last reported quarter, this Westborough-based company’s bottom line surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a margin of 19.3%.Factors to ConsiderBJ's Wholesale’s focus on simplifying assortments, boosting marketing and merchandising capabilities, expanding into high-demand categories and building an own-brand portfolio is commendable. The company remains committed to enhancing omnichannel capabilities and providing value for customers. These endeavors have been contributing to growth in membership signups and renewals.The company has been directing resources toward expanding digital capabilities to better engage with members and provide them with a convenient way to shop. Also, the company’s acquisition of the perishable supply chain from Burris Logistics puts it in an advantageous position to expand fresh food offerings.BJ's Wholesale Club Holdings, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise BJ's Wholesale Club Holdings, Inc. price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | BJ's Wholesale Club Holdings, Inc. QuoteBJ's Wholesale’s better pricing, private-label offerings, merchandise initiatives and digital solutions are likely to have favorably impacted the to-be-reported quarter’s top line. We expect total comparable club sales to increase 7.3%. Excluding gasoline sales, we expect comparable club sales to improve 4.3%.However, margins remain an area to watch. Higher freight costs, investments in inflationary categories and markdowns in general merchandise inventory might have hurt merchandise margins. We estimate a year-over-year gross margin contraction of 70 basis points during the quarter under discussion.What the Zacks Model UnveilsOur proven model does not conclusively predict an earnings beat for BJ's Wholesale Club this time. The combination of a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) increases the odds of an earnings beat. However, that’s not the case here. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.BJ's Wholesale Club has a Zacks Rank #2 but an Earnings ESP of 0.00%. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.Stocks With the Favorable CombinationHere are some companies you may want to consider as our model shows that these have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat:Ulta Beauty ULTA currently has an Earnings ESP of +8.53% and a Zacks Rank of #2. The company is likely to register an increase in the bottom line when it reports fourth-quarter fiscal 2022 results. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarterly earnings per share of $5.53 suggests an increase of 2.2% from the year-ago quarter.Ulta Beauty’s top line is expected to rise year over year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for quarterly revenues is pegged at $3.01 billion, which suggests a rise of 10.3% from the figure reported in the prior-year quarter. ULTA delivered an earnings beat of 26.2%, on average, in the trailing four quarters.Arhaus ARHS currently has an Earnings ESP of +1.69% and a Zacks Rank #2. The company is expected to register an increase in the bottom line when it reports fourth-quarter 2022 results. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for quarterly earnings per share of 20 cents suggests an increase of 42.9% from the year-ago quarter.Arhaus’ top line is anticipated to have risen year over year. The consensus mark for Arhaus’ revenues is pegged at $354.3 million, indicating an increase of 48.7% from the figure reported in the year-ago quarter. Arhaus has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 112% on average.Five Below FIVE currently has an Earnings ESP of +0.52% and a Zacks Rank of #3. The company is likely to register an increase in the bottom line when it reports fourth-quarter fiscal 2022 results. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for quarterly earnings per share of $3.06 suggests an increase of 22.9% from the year-ago quarter.Five Below’s top line is expected to have increased marginally year over year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for quarterly revenues is pegged at $1.11 billion, which suggests a rise of 10.9% from the figure reported in the prior-year quarter. In the trailing four quarters, FIVE delivered an earnings beat of 26.3%, on average.Stay on top of upcoming earnings announcements with the Zacks Earnings Calendar. Free Report: Must-See Energy Stocks for 2023 Record profits at oil companies can mean big gains for you. With soaring demand and elevated prices, oil stocks could be top performers by far in 2023. Zacks has released a special report revealing the 4 oil stocks experts believe will deliver the biggest gains. (You’ll never guess Stock #2!) Download Oil Market on Fire today, absolutely free.Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report BJ's Wholesale Club Holdings, Inc. (BJ): Free Stock Analysis Report Ulta Beauty Inc. (ULTA): Free Stock Analysis Report Five Below, Inc. (FIVE): Free Stock Analysis Report Arhaus, Inc. (ARHS): Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksMar 7th, 2023

Trump"s 2024 GOP challengers: who"s in, who"s out, and who"s waiting in the wings

Only two Republicans besides Trump have so far made a White House run official, but numerous others are considering jumping in during the months ahead. Former President Donald Trump arrives to speak during an event at Mar-a-Lago on November 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida.Joe Raedle/Getty Images Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, and Vivek Ramaswamy are the only 3 who have made a '24 GOP run official. But many others have been floating the possibility of entering the GOP contest. From Pence to DeSantis, here's how Republicans are laying the groundwork for presidential runs. Only three people are running for president in 2024 — at least officially. Former President Donald Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy are the only Republicans so far who have formally announced a 2024 presidential run, but numerous others are signaling that they're toying with the same idea. They're doing all the things they're supposed to do to test their chances: Visiting early primary states, writing books, showing up on the Sunday shows, campaigning with other Republicans ahead of the 2022 midterms, and weighing in publicly on President Joe Biden's policies — and even Trump's latest controversies. The next step will be hiring teams in Iowa and New Hampshire, Doug Heye, a longtime GOP aide and strategist, told Insider."You have got a stable of people who are essentially putting themselves all in the starting gates and all have their own timetable about when and if they decide to run," he said. Over the next few weeks and months, candidates would be floating what Kristin Davison, vice president and general consultant at Axiom Strategies, called "trial balloons" — in which they publicly raise the prospect of a run to see how donors and the press will react. Whoever seizes the nomination will likely face Biden, though he has yet to formally declare his candidacy. But, Heye said, "it's a real possibility" that the GOP lineup will large, much like it was in 2016.The stakes for losing the nomination aren't all bad, even if Republicans might come out of it with an unforgettable Trump nickname. After all, one of the people running for president could get chosen as the running mate or get a seat on the new president's Cabinet.And there are other perks to formally seeking the White House, such as raising one's profile and having a better shot at the presidency during a future cycle. Candidates could also sell a lot more books or leave politics to get a prime TV or radio show. "It's a long, difficult process," Heye said, "and you're more likely to lose than not."Trump's legal, political, and personal liabilities have been piling up in the last month, leading many in the GOP to say the party needs not just a fresh face but to be led by a candidate who can actually win. Insider identified 15 people who have or could seek the Republican nomination in 2024, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Tim Scott of South Carolina who are up for re-election this cycle and will therefore be in campaign mode anyway. Each will have to effectively answer the "why I'm running for president" question and find their lane in the party, which will inevitably include defining — or redefining — their relationship with Trump. "I don't think you can discount any of them at this point," Heye said. "It's too early to determine who outside of Trump is a frontrunner." Scroll through to see the lawmakers who have either already declared or are potentially gearing up for run — and who has officially decided not to move forward:Former UN Ambassador Nikki HaleyFormer UN Ambassador Nikki Haley during a news conference in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, October 26, 2022.Matt Rourke/AP PhotoHaley, 51, made a run official on February 15. During her campaign launch in Charleston, South Carolina, she portrayed herself as a young leader who could win elections. "If you're tired of losing, put your trust in a new generation," she said. Her experiences in public office give her the coveted pairing of having both executive and foreign policy chops, which are often viewed as crucial to the presidency. Aside from Trump and Pence, few other contenders would have such a profile. As a woman of Indian descent, she could also help bring in suburban women voters who graduated from college and expand the GOP coalition among people of color. She embraced her unique background during her campaign kickoff, wearing suffragette white and and calling herself "a brown girl growing up in a black-and-white world." Haley has had a turnaround from last year, when she said she wouldn't run for president if Trump were to seek the White House in 2024. She started our her career working in the private sector, joining her family's clothing business before leading the National Association of Women Business Owners.She served in the South Carolina House for three terms then was the state's governor for six years. In that time Haley delivered the GOP response to Obama's 2016 State of the Union Address.She pushed for the removal of the confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol after a gunman killed nine Black people at Emanuel Church in Charleston. Also as governor, Haley would not support a bill requiring transgender people to use the restroom that corresponded with the gender on their birth certificate. But in 2021 she wrote a commentary in the National Review saying transgender inclusion in sports was an "attack on women's rights."Haley was UN Ambassador under Trump for two years, and successfully pushed for the US to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem and defended Trump's decision to do so.In 2019 she published a memoir, "With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace." Haley campaigned and fundraised in high-profile races during the 2022 midterms, including in Pennsylvania and Georgia. Haley told the National Republican Committee the day after the January 6 riot that Trump was "badly wrong" in his speech to supporters and that his "actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history." Tech entrepreneur Vivek RamaswamyRamaswamy founded the biopharmaceutical company Roivant Sciences.Fox NewsRamaswamy, 37, made his run official on February 22. Ramaswamy is an Indian-American tech entrepreneur who co-founded Strive Asset Management and serves as its executive chairman. He also founded the biopharmaceutical company Roivant Sciences."We're in the midst of a national identity crisis. Faith, patriotism & family are disappearing. We embrace one secular religion after another — from wokeism to climatism — to satisfy our deeper need for meaning," he said in a video announcing his campaign. "Yet we cannot even answer what it means to be an American." —Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) February 22, 2023 Ramaswamy wrote "Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam" and "Nation of Victims: Identity Politics, the Death of Merit, and the Path Back to Excellence."The New Yorker nicknamed Ramaswamy the "CEO of Anti-Woke Inc." for his stance against environmental, social, and governance investing.In February, he delivered a speech about ESG at Trump National Doral, near Miami, before the exclusive and influential Council for National Policy at Trump Doral, where DeSantis was also a key speaker. Former Rep. Liz Cheney of WyomingRep. Liz Cheney, a Republican of Wyoming, campaigned with Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat of Michigan, at an Evening for Patriotism and Bipartisanship event on November 1, 2022 in East Lansing, Michigan.Bill Pugliano/Getty ImagesCheney, 56, is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and one of Trump's toughest Republican critics.She voted to impeach Trump after the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, and served as vice chair of the House select committee investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.Cheney's actions have come at a cost under the heavy weight of Trump's ire. House Republicans punished her by stripping her of her leadership post, and she lost her US House seat to Trump-backed GOP challenger Harriet Hageman during the state's August primary.But she hasn't been deterred. Cheney said on NBC's "Today" that she would do "whatever it takes" to keep Trump out of the White House in 2024, including "thinking about" running for president herself. "I wouldn't be surprised to see her run for president," Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told Insider in August. Cheney voted with Trump on policy when he was in office, and remains a conservative, telling the Reagan Foundation and Institute in June 2022 that she believes "deeply in the policies of limited government, of low taxes, of a strong national defense." But Cheney said she sees a breaking point with the Republican Party, telling the Texas Tribune Festival in September that she would leave the GOP if Trump became the 2024 nominee.This could mean she'd run for president as an Independent. Already, she has shown she's willing to campaign against Republicans who falsely deny that Biden won the 2020 presidential election.In 2022, Cheney converted her House campaign finance committee into an anti-election denier leadership PAC called The Great Task. The PAC spent $500,000 on a TV ad in Arizona that urged voters to reject Republicans Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, who were running for governor and secretary of state, respectively. During the 2022 midterms, Cheney endorsed incumbent Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia. Both won their races. "We had to make sure that we prevented election deniers from taking power," she told The Washington Post's Global Women's Summit in November. Many outsiders see long odds for Cheney, though a poll conducted in Utah found she could be a top contender there. Sen. Ted Cruz of TexasSen. Ted Cruz, a Republican of Texas, speaks at a rally for Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker on November 10, 2022 in Canton, Georgia.Megan Varner/Getty ImagesCruz, 52, was the last Republican standing against Trump during the 2016 presidential nomination and had even announced that he'd pick former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate. But Cruz — whom Trump nicknamed "Lyin' Ted" — lost following a nasty primary in which Trump levied highly personal attacks against the senator, including disparaging his wife's looks and falsely suggesting that Cruz's father had something to do with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Once Trump was in office, however, Cruz was one of the president's  biggest defenders. He voted to overturn the 2020 election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania and helped to secure Trump's acquittal in his second impeachment trial. In recent months, Cruz has been spending time in New Hampshire and during the midterms campaigned with retired football star Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate runoff. While in the Senate, Cruz led the successful effort to zero out the unpopular fine on the uninsured created by the Affordable Care Act.More recently, Cruz used Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearing to score points for a potential 2024 run, questioning her about school curriculum on race. Before coming to Congress, Cruz was solicitor general in Texas, a role that involves arguing cases before the Supreme Court. When Insider asked whether Trump's latest missteps had provided an opening for him to jump into the 2024 presidential race, Cruz chuckled a bit before laying out what sounded like a near-term agenda. "I think the Senate is the battleground … and I'm going to do everything I can to lead the fight right here," Cruz told Insider before launching into a tirade about his mounting frustration with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision making. He made no specific mention of 2024, but also didn't work in the word "no" anywhere.Cruz told the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas that he'll seek reelection in Texas in 2024 when his term is up, though state law allows him to run for both offices at the same time.Former Gov. Chris Christie of New JerseyFormer New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition Saturday, November 19, 2022, in Las Vegas.John Locher/AP PhotoChristie, 60, is famously said to have missed his moment for the White House because he didn't run for president when he was getting a lot of attention as New Jersey's governor in 2012, and instead fizzled out in 2016 when faced with Trump and numerous other contenders. But that hasn't stopped him from weighing another go at it. As recently as October, during an appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher," Christie confirmed that he was considering a 2024 run.  In the last 18 months, Christie has been prominently involved in midterm campaigning and on the same speech circuit as other GOP hopefuls, including the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. He also put out a book in 2021, titled "Republican Rescue: Saving the Party From Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists, and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden." Christie served two terms as a Republican governor in a blue state where Democrats controlled the legislature. In that role, he expanded Medicaid under Obamacare and passed bail reform.But he got flak over a handshake with then-President Barack Obama during Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and was hurt politically after members of his administration created traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge.Christie became a lobbyist in 2020, when he had several healthcare clients but cut ties a year later, according to the lobbying disclosure database, in what could be a sign that he's lining up for a run.   Today, Christie blames Trump for the GOP's losses the last three election cycles and spent months saying Republicans "have to be the party of tomorrow, not the party of yesterday" if they ever want to win another election. His tone on Trump is a stunning turnaround for a man who was one of Trump's closest outside advisors when he was in the White House and was even on the shortlist to be Trump's chief of staff. Christie turned on Trump after January 6, saying the president violated his oath of office. More recently, he told The New York Times that Trump's candidacy was "untenable" and that the former president had had "poor judgement" after he dined at Mar-a-Lago with white supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes. He also told the Washington Examiner that Republicans "fail the leadership test" when they don't call out Trump. Gov. Ron DeSantis of FloridaRepublican gubernatorial candidate for Florida Ron DeSantis speaks during an election night watch party at the Convention Center in Tampa, Florida, on November 8, 2022.Giorgio VIERA / AFP via Getty ImagesDeSantis, 44, has an enviable mantle for the presidency in the Florida governor's office — and he's making the most of it. He famously and unapologetically reopened Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic, before federal health officials said he should. He banned certain teachings on race in workplaces and schools, and flew unsuspecting migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. DeSantis also signed a contentious parental involvement and sex ed bill into law that critics call "Don't Say Gay." Instead of backing down over the outcry, he punished Disney for threatening to repeal it.Then there were the historic tax cuts in Florida with promises of more as well as viral videos bashing what he calls the "corporate media." All of these actions have portrayed the governor as a fighter. That's not the only part of his public persona on display. Often in tow is his beautiful, young family. His former newscaster wife, Florida's first lady Casey DeSantis, has been instrumental in his rise. To the New York Post, pictures of the DeSantis family on Election Night was "DeFuture." Others see a conservative JFK. But the politician DeSantis most often gets compared to is Trump. Numerous news profiles have described DeSantis as "Trump without the baggage," or as a more disciplined Trump. Yet after leaning on Trump during his first gubernatorial victory in 2018, DeSantis showed he could win big on his own, scoring a historic, 20-point victory in Florida in November without Trump's endorsement.As for presidential clues, DeSantis was also out with his first memoir in February: "The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival." During the midterms, he extended goodwill to other Republicans by campaigning with them. Back at home, he raked in a record amount of cash for a gubernatorial race. If the GOP primary were decided today, numerous polls show, DeSantis is the only person that gets close to Trump. DeSantis, a former conservative House member, has not pledged to serve out all four years of his second term. All of that has angered Trump. He has called DeSantis "Ron DeSanctimonious" and threatened to release damaging information about the governor. In turn, DeSantis has taunted Trump with passive aggressive events and comments. South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemSouth Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, on July 11, 2021.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesNoem, 51, has been on a Trump-related roller coaster ride as of late. In January 2021, the embattled former president tried to get her to primary fellow South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a lawmaker Trump took to calling a RINO (which stands for "Republican in name only") after Thune balked at his baseless claims of election fraud. Noem bowed out of joining Trump's revenge campaign, opting to focus on her own re-election plans. Once 2022 rolled around, she leaned hard into the GOP culture wars, promising voters that she'd bar transgender athletes from participating in women's sports, stamp out any "critical race theory" instruction in local schools, and decimate any "radical political ideologies" that annoyed her evangelical Christian base.Come July, Noem told CNN she'd be "shocked" if Trump tapped her to be his 2024 running mate. But she didn't rule out sliding into the VP slot — or mounting a challenge of her own. Since winning a second term in November, Noem has started taking on bigger foes, including the People's Republic of China. —Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) November 30, 2022 Her state government-wide ban against the use of social media app TikTok scored her fawning interviews on conservative outlets including Fox News and Newsmax, beaming her into the homes of potential admirers who don't happen to reside in the Mount Rushmore State. Noem seems far less enthusiastic about Trump these days, telling reporters that the twice-impeached, scandal-plagued former president isn't Republicans' "best chance" at retaking the White House in 2024. She issued this prediction just days after Trump announced he was running again.  Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of ArkansasArkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson attends the National Governors Association summer meeting, Friday, July 15, 2022, in Portland, Maine.Robert F. Bukaty/AP PhotoHutchinson, 72, hasn't been shy about criticizing Biden or Trump. After Trump's 2024 announcement, he said the former president's "self-indulging message promoting anger has not changed," and also disavowed the Fuentes and Ye meeting at Mar-a-Lago.Hutchinson has taken at least five trips to Iowa through America Strong & Free, the nonprofit of which he's the honorary chairman and spokesperson."I am seriously looking at a run in 2024 because America and the Republican Party are not in the best place," he said in a statement provided to Insider. "I know how to get us back on track both in terms of leadership and facing the challenging issues of border security, increased violent crime and energy inflation." He'll make a decision in April, he told CNN. As governor of Arkansas for eight years, Hutchinson has pushed to make the state a leader in computer science, and signed several tax cuts into law, including lowering the state income tax rate from 7% to 4.9%. Hutchinson also signed bills into law blocking businesses from requiring customers and workers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations, and blocked state and local officials from obligating masks — a move he later said he regretted. He asked state lawmakers to create a carve-out for schools, but the Arkansas House rejected the proposal. While he signed an abortion ban into law in 2019 that took effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, he said on CNN that he personally believes in exceptions for rape and incest."Many out there appreciate a 'consistent conservative,' even one they don't agree with all the time," Hutchinson told Insider. "I am not interested in the 'outrage of the day,' and I am committed to using my consistent conservative principles to guide me and our nation on important policy decisions." Hutchinson began his government career as a US attorney for the Western District of Arkansas under President Ronald Reagan, then went on to serve in the US House for three terms. President George W. Bush tapped him to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration, after which he served as undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security. He has criticized Biden on illegal immigration, inflation, student loan forgiveness, and said on CNN that the president's September speech about democracy "singled out a segment of Americans and said basically they're our enemy."Hutchinson also has the distinction of being especially press friendly at a time when numerous Republicans have copied Trump's style of lashing out against journalists. "The media plays an important role in our democracy," Hutchinson told Insider. "I've never shied away from tough questions, and I have always been willing to defend my positions and conservative principles with the hard questions coming from the press."Former Vice President Mike PenceFormer Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition on Friday, November 18, 2022, in Las Vegas.John Locher/AP PhotoPence, 63, has begun to distance himself from his former boss, while also promoting his new book, "So Help Me God." He told ABC's "World News Tonight" that Trump "decided to be part of the problem" by not immediately calling off the insurrectionists during the January 6 riot, after he declined to help invalidate Biden's lawful win. Pence also pushed back against Trump on WVOC in South Carolina after he called for terminating the Constitution, and came out forcefully after Trump had dinner with Fuentes."President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an anti-Semite, and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table," he said on November 28. An adviser to the former vice president told Insider that, should Pence decide to run, the team has discussed several policy areas to differentiate himself, including Trump's bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, the First Step Act, and that he'll continue to be "very outspoken on the issue of life."In contrast, Trump didn't mention his three Supreme Court picks when he announced his 2024 presidential run, even though they helped overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that previously guaranteed a national right to abortion. Pence wouldn't have to worry about name ID during a presidential run. Still, his new book and a campaign would allow him to reintroduce himself to voters by talking about his work in the US House and then as governor of Indiana. He already has made numerous trips to early primary states New Hampshire and South Carolina. Further, he'll be able to amplify policies that carried his fingerprints during the Trump administration, including his oversight of the US's pandemic response.Pence was a sought-after midterm surrogate, traveling to dozens of states. In May, he went to Georgia to help incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp beat Trump-backed primary challenger David Perdue.Pence's vision for the future of the party is laid out in his Freedom Agenda and Advancing American Freedom, the nonprofit aligned with him that serves as a type of campaign in waiting. The policies include reducing mail-in voting and implementing universal school choice, which allows public education funds to pay for K-12 students to select alternatives to public schools. While Pence didn't testify before the January 6 select committee, his senior aides including former chief of staff Marc Short and legal advisor J. Michael Luttig walked investigators through some of the scenarios that led up to the attack. In November, Pence said on Fox's "Hannity" that he would make a 2024 decision after discussing it with his family during the holidays. Former Secretary of State Mike PompeoFormer Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Friday, November 18, 2022, in Las Vegas.John Locher/AP PhotoPompeo, 59, told Chicago donors in September that he already had teams in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.His outside campaign in waiting is called Champion American Values Fund, and Pompeo has been doing press appearances to talk about his forthcoming book, "Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love." Pompeo represented Kansas in the US Congress and was also former CIA director under Trump. After the end of the administration, he lost weight, which sparked speculation that he was interested in a White House run. Similar to Haley, Pompeo would enter the contest with a foreign policy background. He has openly criticized Biden, including after the president's September speech on protecting democracy. "He essentially said if you're pro-life or you're opposed to a certain set of policies, you're a threat," Pompeo told the New England Council's "Politics and Eggs" breakfast.  Biden, he said at the event, could be summed up as having "woke ideas, weak resolve, and waffling leadership."Trump should not have taken classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, he said, but added that the "raid on Mar-a-Lago was indecent and improper." Pompeo told conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt in November that Trump's announcement wouldn't affect whether he decides to run for president, adding that he'd make a determination in the spring. "We need more seriousness, less noise, and leaders who are looking forward," Pompeo said, "not staring in the rearview mirror claiming victimhood." Sen. Marco Rubio of FloridaWilfredo Lee/AP PhotoRubio, 51, has come out hot after cruising to a third term in November, castigating GOP leaders for totally blowing the midterms. "We have a historically unpopular Dem President, record inflation, a violent crime wave & total chaos at the border & not only did we fail to win a majority, we lost a seat. And the Senate GOP response is going to be to make no changes?" Rubio fumed in a December 7 Twitter post. His anger hadn't abated when Insider caught up with him at the US Capitol. "I don't know how you come back from what we have just encountered and conclude that the status quo and business as usual is how we want to proceed," Rubio said of the need for drastic changes within the GOP. While conceding that he doesn't have "all those answers," Rubio suggested that Senate Republicans take a hard look at "the mechanics of elections, policy, the legislative agenda, and all of that." "I think that's something we should all be involved in talking about," Rubio said of the sorely needed soul searching. Rubio, who is of Cuban descent, was speaker of the Florida House before heading to Washington. He has sponsored numerous bills that have become law, including doubling the child tax credit and co-authoring the Paycheck Protection Program that helped keep small businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.On top of that, he's got a powerful perch as the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee. Political operatives have credited him with helping the GOP grow its influence with Hispanic voters, NBC News reported. Asked by Insider whether he had it in him to take another run at the former president after getting clobbered by the insult-flinging Trump in 2016, Rubio said he just really needs to take a breath. "We'll have time over the holidays and into the new year to sort of focus on everything going on in my life and here in the Senate," Rubio told Insider, adding that he hasn't "really focused in on" returning to the presidential proving grounds at the moment. Perhaps voters will learn more about future plans in his forthcoming book, "Decades of Decadence." Sen. Tim Scott of South CarolinaSen. Tim Scott, a Republican of South Carolkina, speaks at a fundraiser in Anderson, South Carolina on August 22, 2022.Meg Kinnard/AP Photo, FileScott, 57, hinted at a presidential bid during his midterms victory speech, even though he previously said he wouldn't run against Trump. "My grandfather voted for the first man of color to be elected as president of the United States," he said on November 8, referring to the vote his grandfather cast for Obama. "I wish he had lived long enough to see perhaps another man of color elected president of the United States. But this time, let it be a Republican and not just a Democrat. So just know: All things are possible in America."Scott, who previously served in the US House, is the only Black Republican in the Senate. He said his six-year term in the Senate beginning in January will be his last, but he hasn't ruled out a presidential run and is making all the right moves to position himself for the undertaking. Despite his own election, he has taken several trips to Iowa and spent time campaigning on behalf of other Republicans. He also released a memoir, "America, a Redemption Story: Choosing Hope, Creating Unity" and is one of the top fundraisers in the Senate — which includes support from small and online donors — even though he defended a safe seat this cycle.Major donors have contributed to Opportunity Matters Fun, a pro-Scott super PAC. In February, he launched a listening tour. Scott was among those leading the push for the successful passage of the bipartisan First Step Act and his measure to create Opportunity Zones that bring private investments into economically distressed communities was part of the 2017 tax reform law. He garnered national interest after delivering the GOP response to Biden's address to Congress in April. Afterward, McConnell said the senator represented "the future of the Republican Party." Scott has been open about the racism he has faced over the course of his life. "I get called Uncle Tom and the n-word by progressives, by liberals," he said in response to Biden's address. He has shared that police have pulled him over numerous times, despite him not violating any traffic laws. He sat down with Trump at the White House to discuss systemic racism and publicly called on Trump to call back certain statements he made on race. Haley, who was South Carolina governor at the time, appointed Scott to the Senate in 2013 after the seat opened up. Miami Mayor Francis SuarezTaylor Hill / Contributor Getty ImagesSuarez, 45, confirmed in October that he's considering a presidential run. By March, he was still deciding, he told the Miami Herald. "It's something that I would consider given the right circumstances and given the right mood of the country," Suarez said at a Punchbowl News event in October. Miami has been getting a lot of attention given the surge of people moving to Florida — and tech companies and crypto startups in particular headed to Miami under Suarez's encouragement. He even told Twitter CEO Elon Musk that he should consider relocating the company's headquarters from San Francisco.Suarez's office sent over a list of accomplishments for the mayor, saying the city was No. 1 in job and wage growth, and had 1.4% unemployment. The Financial Times called Miami "the most important city in America." The mayor made historic increases to the city's police department, increased funding on climate-resistant infrastructure, and passed a rental tax credit for seniors. Suarez didn't vote for Trump during the 2020 election and in the 2018 gubernatorial race in Florida he voted for Democrat Andrew Gillum over DeSantis. He did flip in 2022, voting for DeSantis for reelection, he told Insider. Suarez said Trump has been kind to him. The two spoke at a wedding recently, he said, and Trump told him he was the "hottest politician in America after him.""I don't know if he meant physically hot or if he meant I was getting a lot of buzz," Suarez said. "But he was very nice." Suarez is of Cuban descent and leads the National Conference of Mayors. When asked about how he might stand out in a presidential race, Suarez said he might be able to speak to "a variety of minority communities that are going to be important if Republicans want to grow their base for a generation." Gov. Chris Sununu of New HampshireGov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire.Jon Cherry/Getty Images for ConcordiaSununu, 48, was just reelected to a fourth term in New Hampshire, where governors are reelected every two years and there are no term limits. "I haven't ruled anything in or out," he told Politico's "Playbook Deep Dive" podcast when asked about running for president in 2024. "I haven't ruled out a fifth term. I haven't ruled out running for higher office."Sununu is a centrist Republican who has the distinction of being in favor of abortion rights, at a time when many states are banning abortion. He came close to running for the US Senate in 2022, but told the Washington Examiner that other senators told him their main job was to be a "roadblock" in office — and he wasn't interested in that.Sununu also called Trump "fucking crazy" at the Gridiron dinner, a journalism event. "Let's stop supporting crazy, unelectable candidates in our primaries and start getting behind winners that can close the deal in November," Sununu said in November at Republican Jewish Coalition meeting.He told the Washington Examiner after the midterms that there should be new GOP leadership — not just in the White House but inside the Republican National Committee."Did they achieve on the level of results that we all thought we were going to get?" he asked. "No. So, why would we stick with the same team assuming we're going to get a better result?"Sununu is part of a political dynasty. His father was governor of New Hampshire who then went on to work in the George H.W. Bush administration as chief of staff. His brother was in the US House and US Senate. Gov. Glenn Youngkin of VirginiaGov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia.AP Photo/Steve Helber, FileYoungkin, 56, tried his hand at playing kingmaker in over a dozen 2022 gubernatorial contests and mostly came up short. The newly-minted Republican who rocketed to stardom in late 2021 by keeping Virginia purplish with his electrifying win over Democratic fixture Terry McAuliffe tried to work that same Trump-light magic into contests all around the country. The result: only four of the 15 Republican gubernatorial candidates Youngkin got involved with won their races. It's unclear whether Youngkin had any effect on the reelection bids of blowout winners like Kemp or Noem.By the same token, it's debatable whether he could have dragged Lake, Michigan's Tudor Dixon, or any of the other 2020 election deniers across the finish line given their full-on embrace of Trumpism. While he remains reluctant to badmouth the embattled former president, Youngkin clinched his 2021 win by keeping Trump at bay while still reaching out to the MAGA base. Trump, on the other hand, has tried to take full credit for Youngkin's win and lashed out at the newcomer for not being more appreciative. Trump's already working on trying to clip a Youngkin presidential bid from ever taking wing, panning him and DeSantis as ingrates who have no chance of beating him. Trump also reverted to his old tricks after the politically damaging 2022 midterms flop, hitting Youngkin with a bizarre, racist rant on Truth Social. Given that Virginia only allows governors to serve non-consecutive terms, it makes sense for Youngkin to seek opportunities elsewhere.The Washington Post reported that Youngkin spent part of his summer huddling with Republican mega donors in New York. And while he remains mum on any official plans for 2024, Politico said Youngkin's putting in place the types of fundraising groups a presidential candidate would want to have at the ready.Youngkin is a former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group. As governor, his first official action was to sign an executive order prohibiting Virginia schools from teaching "critical race theory." More recently, he's been pushing to reimburse individuals and businesses who paid fines for violating state COVID-19 restrictions under his Democratic predecessor.Out of the Running: Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger of IllinoisRep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., speaks as the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol holds a hearing in Washington, DC, on July 21, 2022.AP Photo/J. Scott ApplewhiteLike Cheney, Kinzinger, 45, spent much of 2022 focused on the January 6 committee and drawing Trump's ire. He was the only other Republican on the House committee investigating the riot, and retired from his seat at the end of the last Congress, after six terms. Kinzinger told HuffPost in April 2022 that he "would love" to run against Trump for the 2024 GOP nomination, but more for the fun of it than to actually win."Even if he crushed me, like in a primary, to be able to stand up and call out the garbage is just a necessary thing, regardless of who it is," he said. "I think it'd be fun."But by January 2023, Kinzinger told CNN's "State of the Union" that he had no intention of running for president. Kinzinger in early 2021 launched his anti-election denier leadership PAC, called Country First. The group launched a nationwide campaign urging voters to reject "extreme" candidates in 2024. Kinzinger sponsored several bills that became law, including measures to prevent opioid addiction and a bill to help veterans with medic training transition to EMT work as civilians. Kinzinger served in the Air Force and remains a pilot in the Air National Guard. Out of the Running: Sen. Josh Hawley of MissouriSenator Josh Hawley (R-MO) speaks during the confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on March 22, 2022.JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)Hawley, 43, won't be seeking the presidency in 2024, he told NBC News in November. But the senator has reached for the spotlight whenever possible while Congress is in session.From famously saluting the January 6 protestors on the day of the violent siege at the Capitol to holding Brown Jackson's feet to the fire as she raced to join the Supreme Court, the first-term lawmaker works to portray himself as the perennial outsider who's only here to shake things up. He's played up the part by voting to overturn the 2020 election results on behalf of MAGA vote-magnet Trump, butting heads with McConnell on the way the upper chamber is run, and blaming short-sighted leaders for running the party into the ground. "When your 'agenda' is cave to Big Pharma on insulin, cave to Schumer on gun control & Green New Deal ('infrastructure'), and tease changes to Social Security and Medicare, you lose," Hawley, bemoaned on Twitter following a demoralizing midterms performance by flawed GOP candidates, which he blamed on "Washington Republicanism." The potential 2024 contender followed up with some suggestions, floating an alternative vision he said would help "unrig the system."   "What are Republicans actually going to do for working people? How about, to start: tougher tariffs on China, reshore American jobs, open up American energy full throttle, 100k new cops on the street," Hawley, who was also Missouri's former attorney general, tossed out on his social media feed. Out of the Running: Former Gov. Larry Hogan of MarylandGov. Larry Hogan of Maryland.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesEven before the bruising 2022 midterms, Hogan, 66, was warning that Republicans couldn't continue down the path they are on. "I am not about to give up on the Republican party or America," he wrote on Twitter in early December. "None of us can. It's too important."The two-term governor who survived a 2015 cancer scare has been fired up about plotting his next act. But that next act won't be seeking the presidency. "The stakes are too high for me to risk being part of another multicar pileup that could potentially help Mr. Trump recapture the nomination," Hogan wrote in a guest essay for The New York Times. He elaborated about his thinking in a March 5 interview with CBS News, signaling he wouldn't support Trump or DeSantis — the only Republican who polls near Trump. "Right now, you have Trump and DeSantis at the top of the field, soaking up all the oxygen, getting all the attention, and then a whole lot of the rest of us in single digits," Hogan said on CBS. "And the more of them you have, the less chance you have for somebody rising up."Hogan, a centrist Republican, did explore the possibility of running for president, making the rounds in early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. Hogan also scored some face time with GOP mega donors at this year's Republican Jewish Coalition leadership meeting — mentioning to political reporters covering the event that he and other potential 2024 hopefuls were there because "maybe there's a little blood in the water." As governor, Hogan signed a gun control bill into law and has said that while he opposed abortion, he wouldn't move to gut the state's guarantee on reproductive rights. During the COVID-19 pandemic he instituted a statewide mask mandate, then lifted restrictions in May 2021. He billed himself as a "commonsense conservative" who GOP voters sick of losing may want to consider."I think there are 10 people who want to be the next Donald Trump, and I think there may be a different lane," Hogan said while stumping in Manchester, New Hampshire, adding, "I'm going to do everything I can to get the country back on track." He cast a write-in vote for Reagan in the 2020 election and called for Trump to be impeached or resign after January 6. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 6th, 2023

Futures Rebound After Worst Week Of 2023

Futures Rebound After Worst Week Of 2023 US index futures jumped after suffering their worst weekly drop of 2023, as traders looked for fresh opportunities to buy stocks while assessing the outlook for growth. S&P 500 futures rose 0.5%, rising just shy of 4,000 by 7:45 a.m. ET after the underlying benchmark fell 1.1% in the last trading session. Nasdaq 100 futures rose by about 0.6% after the tech-heavy gauge tumbled 1.7% at the end of last week. European and Asian stocks also rose; the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index turned red after retreating from the day’s highs, lifting most Group-of-10 currencies. Treasuries edged lower, mirroring moves in global bond markets. Gold was little changed, oil fell and bitcoin resumed losses after gains overnight In premarket trading, cancer drugmaker Seagen soared after the Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer is in early-stage talks to acquire the cancer therapy developer worth around $30BN. Pfizer shares slipped. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Best Buy (BBY) shares drop 1.8% after Telsey downgraded the electronics retailer, saying the company’s business is likely to experience a further decline in the near term. Fisker (FSR) climbs 7.8% after the carmaker  posted 4Q results and forecast 8% to 12% annual gross margin and potentially positive Ebitda for 2023. FuboTV (FUBO) rises 8.2% after posting 4Q revenue that beat the average analyst estimate. Focus Financial Partners (FOCS) shares are halted after the company agreed to be acquired by affiliates of CD&R for $53 per share. Enphase Energy Inc. (ENPH) shares are up 1.9% after Janney Montgomery upgraded the company to buy, citing attractive valuation. Li-Cycle shares (LICY) rise 8% after the firm announced that one of its US subsidiaries had been granted a $375 million loan offer from the Biden administration. Lucira Health (LHDX) shares surge 240% after the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the company’s Covid-19 and flu test. Payoneer Global (PAYO) gains 5% after Jefferies initiated coverage with a buy recommendation, saying the payments firm suffered from a “complexity discount.” Pulmonx Corp. (LUNG) rises 3.8% as Wells Fargo upgrades to overweight, saying the company’s fourth-quarter results “represent a turning point for the company.” Range Resources (RRC) shares slump 7.5% after Pioneer Natural Resources said it was not “contemplating a significant business combination or other acquisition transaction” in a statement Friday evening. Seagen (SGEN) shares soar 14% after the Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer is in early-stage talks to acquire the cancer therapy developer. Tegna (TGNA) shares slump 22% after the Federal Communications Commission shelved Standard General’s proposed $5.4 billion buyout of the broadcaster. Union Pacific (UNP) shares climb 10% after the rail freight company said it was looking for a new CEO following pressure from a hedge fund. Universal Insurance Holdings (UVE) rises 1.8% after Piper Sandler upgraded the insurer to overweight, anticipating strong earnings in 2023 on higher prices and potential tort reform via a bill that seeks to reduce unnecessary litigation XPeng (XPEV) shares gain 5% after the Chinese electric-vehicle maker is included in the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index The S&P 500 has fallen over the past three weeks amid concerns that renewed price pressures will prompt more (and bigger) rate hikes from the US central bank. An unexpected acceleration in the personal consumption expenditures price index boosted expectations for policy tightening, while solid income and spending growth data further allayed fears of an imminent recession. Traders await durable goods data due later on Monday. Monday’s advance may signal traders are looking “towards the end of the potential bearish correction brought by last week’s decreased appetite for riskier assets, after investors digested the prospect of longer hawkish monetary stances from central banks,” said Pierre Veyret, a technical analyst at ActivTrades. Others - such as MS permabear Mike Wilson - remained bearish: Wilson said March will see stronger bear-market headwinds for stocks in a note on Monday. Fresh earnings downgrades will weigh on markets, with the S&P 500 potentially sliding as much as 24% to 3,000 points. Wilson also said that those treading into this market risk falling into a “bull trap”, a view echoed by Torsten Slok, chief economist at Apollo Global Management. “A generation of investors has since 2008 been taught that they should buy on dips, but today is different because of high inflation, and credit markets and equity markets are underestimating the Fed’s commitment to getting inflation down to 2%,” Slok wrote in a note. Stock markets that had mostly shrugged off forecasts for higher interest rates are finally giving way to a swift repricing of yields. Traders are now pricing US rates to peak at 5.4% this year, compared with about 5% just a month ago, as an acceleration in the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge dashes hopes for an imminent pause in policy tightening. Meanwhile, JPMorgan strategists led by Mislav Matejka said last year’s strong outperformance in cheaper, so-called value stocks over growth peers is likely to reverse soon as the economic recovery slows. The next move for investors in the following month or two might be to go “outright underweight value versus growth,” they wrote in a note. Ironically, that comes as JPM initiated coverage of two big US online real estate firms, Zillow Group at overweight and Redfin at neutral, as it forecasts a recovery in the property market. European stocks also rose as investors are tempted by lower prices following the largest weekly selloff since December. The Stoxx 600 is up 1.2% with tech, retail and consumer products the best-performing sectors. The bounce ignores the surge in German benchmark yields which hit 2.58%, the highest since 2011, on bets the European Central Bank will extend its tightening cycle beyond this year. Here are some of the biggest movers on Monday: Shell rises as much as 2.4% after Goldman Sachs upgrades the oil and gas company to buy from neutral, following a strong earnings season for oil majors Associated British Foods shares rise as much as 2.7% after the food processing and retailing company said it sees total sales for the first half more than 20% ahead of last year Michelin gains as much as 3.1% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the French tiremaker to buy from neutral, noting “underappreciated tailwinds” including lower raw material and logistics costs Hennes & Mauritz shares jump as much as 4.2% after Bank of America upgraded the clothing retailer to buy from underperform, citing prospects for a profit recovery this year Bunzl shares gain as much as 4.2%, hitting the highest intraday since August, after the distribution group’s results were marginally better than expected across the board, showing business model resilience Haleon shares rise as much as 1% after Bloomberg News reported the consumer health business, spun out of GSK last year, is exploring a divestiture of its ChapStick lip balm brand PostNL shares tumble as much as 12%, the most since October, after the Dutch delivery firm’s new FY23 Ebit guidance came in 43% below consensus Dechra Pharmaceuticals tumbles as much as 18% after the British animal health-care company posted a profit decline in the first half and forecast FY guidance that disappointed Earlier in the session, Asian stocks declined as traders worry about the prospect of further interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve after an unexpected acceleration of US inflation. Investors were also cautious ahead of a key political meeting in China.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 0.8%, led by technology and materials shares. Australia and South Korea were among the worst-performing markets, while Japan bucked the region’s trend following a pledge from the Bank of Japan governor nominee to maintain ultra-loose monetary policy. Chinese and Hong Kong benchmarks edged lower as investors eyed the National People’s Congress meeting starting this weekend. They are showing a preference for onshore stocks over Hong Kong peers amid expectations that more pro-growth policies will be announced. A strong rally in Asian stocks has hit a wall this month amid renewed worries of US policy tightening and a lack of positive catalysts for Chinese shares. A hotter-than-expected set of data in the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge Friday spurred a hawkish recalibration of expectations for rate hikes, pressuring risk assets. Asian emerging markets will “certainly not be immune” from “spillover risks” of the rebound in US inflation, said Vishnu Varathan, Asia head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank. Prospects of tighter policy for a longer period “will hold feet to fire for valuations.” Japanese equities closed mixed, as investors mulled the unexpected acceleration of US inflation data that suggested potential further interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. The Topix rose 0.2% to close at 1,992.78, while the Nikkei declined 0.1% to 27,423.96. The yen strengthened about 0.1% after tumbling 1.3% Friday to 136.48 per dollar. Fanuc contributed the most to the Topix gain, increasing 2.9% after it was upgraded at Nomura. Out of 2,160 stocks in the index, 1,478 rose and 591 fell, while 91 were unchanged. “Japanese equities were mainly influenced by the higher than expected US PCE data, and the rising US interest rates would make the environment tougher for growth stocks,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities. “However, compared to US stocks, Japanese stocks are still supported by a weaker yen and this is likely to continue for some time.” Australian stocks declined; the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.1% to close at 7,224.80, dragged by losses in mining shares. The materials sub-gauge dropped the most since Oct. 28, continuing a four-day losing streak, after iron ore slumped.  In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.9% to 11,793.33 In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was steady and the greenback traded mixed against its Group-of-10 peers. Sweden’s krona and the pound were the best performers while the New Zealand and Australian dollars were the worst. The euro was steady at $1.0550. Bund yields followed Treasury yields higher after an early drop. the 10-year yield rose to the highest since 2011 as traders are betting the ECB will extend its tightening cycle beyond this year, pushing back expectations for a peak in interest rates into 2024 for the first time. Focus is on speeches by policymakers The pound rose 0.2% against the dollar, snapping a three-day decline, to trade around 1.1966 amid speculation of an imminent deal on the Northern Ireland protocol. Gilts yields rose as bets on BOE rates pricing turned higher. The yen steadied near a two-month low as currency traders weighed remarks from BOJ governor nominee Kazuo Ueda at his second parliamentary hearing. Ueda said monetary easing should continue in support of the economy’s recovery, a comment that suggests he won’t seek an immediate change in policy if he is approved to helm the central bank The New Zealand dollar underperformed its G-10 peers. RBNZ chief economist Paul Conway said inflation is “far too high,” labor market is “incredibly tight”. The Australian dollar also tacked lower. RBA chief Philip Lowe’s expectation of further interest-rate rises prompted economists and money markets to narrow the odds of a recession In rates, Treasury yields reversed a drop to inch up, led by the front end following a wider drop across German bonds, as traders wagered that the European Central Bank will extend its rate-hiking cycle further into 2024. US yields were cheaper by up to 1.7bp in front-end of the curve with 2s10s flatter by almost 1bp; 10-year yields around 3.95%, less than 1bp cheaper vs. Friday session close with Germany 10-year lagging by 3bp vs. Treasuries.  Bund futures are lower as traders push back bets on when ECB rates will peak until 2024 for the first time. German 10-year yields are up 4bps. In commodities, oil fell as concerns that the Fed will keep on raising rates eclipsed the latest disruption to supplies in Europe and optimism over a demand recovery in China; WTI hovered around $76.30. Spot gold is flat at around $1,810. Bitcoin is modestly firmer on the session, +1.0%, but off initial best levels and well below 24k. RBI Governor Das said at the G20 that there is now wide recognition of major risk with crypto. Looking at today's calendar, we get the February Dallas Fed manufacturing activity, January durable goods orders, and pending home sales; elsewhere we also get Japan January retail sales, industrial production, Italy February manufacturing confidence, economic sentiment and consumer confidence index, Eurozone February services, industrial and economic confidence, January M3, Canada Q4 current account balance. Fed speaker slate includes Jefferson at 10:30am; Goolsbee, Kashkari, Waller, Logan, Bostic and Bowman are scheduled later this week. On the earnings front, Occidental Petroleum, Workday, and Zoom report. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.5% to 3,994.25 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.0% to 462.49 MXAP down 0.5% to 157.92 MXAPJ down 0.8% to 511.47 Nikkei down 0.1% to 27,423.96 Topix up 0.2% to 1,992.78 Hang Seng Index down 0.3% to 19,943.51 Shanghai Composite down 0.3% to 3,258.03 Sensex down 0.4% to 59,220.58 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.1% to 7,224.81 Kospi down 0.9% to 2,402.64 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.56% Euro little changed at $1.0555 Brent Futures up 0.4% to $83.48/bbl Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,809.86 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 105.15 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Three quarters of the 1,500 UK business leaders polled by BCG’s Centre for Growth believe the economy will shrink in 2023 but only 20% plan to shed staff, fewer than the 29% who plan to increase headcount: BBG Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen will meet in the UK in the early afternoon on Monday for final talks ahead of an expected announcement of a post-Brexit settlement for Northern Ireland: BBG The ECB is very likely to go ahead with its intention to raise interest rates by a half-point when it meets next month, President Christine Lagarde told India’s Economic Times: BBG Bloomberg’s aggregate index of eight early indicators suggests China’s economy rebounded in February after the long holiday, although it points to an uneven recovery with strong consumption following the scrapping of Covid rules but lagging industrial activity: BBG Macron announced he will visit China in April and hopes to encourage Beijing to pressure Moscow into reaching a settlement of the Ukraine war. SCMP New home sales by floor area in 16 selected Chinese cities rose 31.9% month-on-month in February, compared with a fall of 34.3% in January, according to China Index Academy, one of the country’s largest independent real estate research firms. RTRS    American companies, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Ralph Lauren, Tapestry, and others, are expanding in China in anticipation of a consumer-led rebound in the economy as the post-reopening recovery continues. WSJ China Renaissance confirmed Chairman Bao Fan has been assisting in a Chinese probe since he disappeared abruptly earlier this month. The investigation is being run by authorities, and Renaissance will "cooperate and assist with any lawful request." It was reported last week that Cong Lin, the firm's former president, has been involved in a probe since September. BBG BOJ policy – incoming governor Kazuo Ueda says it’s premature to discuss normalization as “big improvements” must be achieved in the country’s inflation trajectory before changes can happen (Ueda says the benefits of monetary easing exceed the costs). RTRS Russia has halted supplies of oil to Poland via the Druzhba pipeline, a move that comes one day after Poland sent its first Leopard tanks to Ukraine. RTRS US insurance regulators on Monday will meet to consider boosting capital charges on complex corporate loan instruments that some in the industry warn are creating excessive risk. The issue pits insurers backed by large private equity firms such as Blackstone, Apollo Global and KKR — who are increasingly investing in the loans — against traditional life insurers such as MetLife and Prudential Financial, who warn of growing risks. FT Pfizer is in early-stage talks to acquire biotech Seagen, valued at about $30 billion, and its pioneering targeted cancer therapies. WSJ Hedge fund Soroban Capital Partners is pushing Union Pacific Corp.  to replace Chief Executive Lance Fritz, arguing the railroad has underperformed on his watch, according to people familiar with the matter. WSJ A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded cautiously heading into month-end and a slew of upcoming releases including Chinese PMI data, with headwinds also from the US where firmer-than-expected Core PCE data spurred hawkish terminal rate bets. ASX 200 was negative as participants digested a deluge of earnings and with the mining industry leading the retreat seen across nearly all sectors aside from energy which benefitted from a jump in Woodside Energy’s profits. Nikkei 225 price action was contained by a lack of pertinent macro drivers and with BoJ Governor nominee Ueda’s largely reiterated prior comments at the upper house confirmation hearing. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. were choppy with initial pressure amid geopolitical frictions after the G20 finance ministers meeting failed to agree on a communique due to opposition from Russia and China, while National Security Adviser Sullivan also warned there will be a real cost if China provides military assistance to Russia for the Ukraine war. However, Chinese stocks gradually recovered from the early weakness and briefly turned positive with sentiment helped by a continued liquidity injection and after China drafted guidelines to regulate financial support in the housing rental market, although the gains proved to be short-lived. Top Asian News China drafted guidelines to regulate financial support in the housing rental market and began to solicit public opinion, according to Macau dropped COVID-19 mask mandates for most locations aside from public transportation, hospitals and some other areas, according to Reuters. BoJ Governor Kuroda commented that he is resolved to keep ultra-loose policy and that the BoJ expects core consumer inflation to slow beyond 2% in both fiscal 2023 and 2024, according to Reuters. BoJ Governor nominee Ueda says CPI growth will slow below 2% in fiscal 2023 and that it takes time for CPI to meet the 2% target stably and sustainably, while he added that the BoJ's current monetary easing is appropriate and that it is appropriate to continue monetary easing from now on as well. Adds, changing the 2% inflation target into a 1% target would strengthen the JPY in the short-term, weaken it long-term. Overshooting commitment is aimed at exerting powerful announcement effects on policy, need to be mindful of risk of inflation overshooting too much. Targeting shorter-dated JGBs than current 10yr yield is one idea if BoJ were to tweak YCC in the future, but there are many other options. Does not think Japan has reached the reversal rate, in which financial transmission channels are hurt so much that the demerits of easing exceed benefits. European bourses are firmer across the board, Euro Stoxx 50 +1.8%, after a cautious APAC handover following Friday's selling pressure. Sectors are all in the green with Energy names at the top of the pile, given benchmark pricing and Shell's upgrade at GS. Stateside, futures are currently posting more modest upside of around 0.5% with Fed's Jefferson (voter) the session's main event. Tesla's (TSLA) German plant has hit a production level of 4,000 per week, three weeks ahead of schedule, according to Reuters. Top European News UK PM Sunak and European Commission President von der Leyen will meet at 12:00GMT/07:00EST in Windsor, according to BBC; if there is a deal, a press conference could be around 15:30GMT. Earlier, UK PM Sunak's office said UK PM Sunak will meet with EU's von der Leyen for talks on Northern Ireland Brexit deal late lunchtime on Monday and will hold a Cabinet meeting later on Monday. Furthermore, PM Sunak and von der Leyen will hold a news conference if a deal is reached, while Sunak will also address parliament if there is a deal. UK ministers are unlikely to quit re. the Brexit deal, with the likes of Steve Baker and others liking what they are hearing but waiting to see the full text, according to Times' Swinford; ERG say they would love to back the deal but if the DUP does not back the deal it cannot and won't support it. UK PM Sunak said they are giving it everything they’ve got regarding talks for a post-Brexit deal for Northern Ireland and he will try to resolve the concerns the DUP Party have regarding a new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland. It was later reported that PM Sunak said he won big concessions from the EU, according to The Sunday Times and The Times. UK Deputy PM Raab said there is real progress on a trade deal and he is hopeful for good news on the Brexit deal within days, not weeks, and also noted that Northern Ireland’s DUP does not have a de-facto veto over the Brexit deal. In other news, Raab said he will resign if an allegation of bullying against him is upheld, according to Reuters. ECB’s Lagarde said headline inflation is still unacceptably high and core CPI is at a record level, while she added that they want to bring inflation back to the 2% target and noted that rate decisions are to be data dependent. Magnitude 5.7 earthquake that struck the Eastern Turkey region has been revised to 5.2, according to the EMSC. FX DXY retained a bid between Fib and psychological level within 105.360-070 range; though has erred towards the lower-end of these parameters going into the US session. Sterling 'outperforms' after a dip through 200 DMA vs Buck on UK-EU NI trade deal optimism, with EUR/GBP within 10 pips of 0.8800 at worst. Kiwi flags as NZ Q4 retail sales fall and Aussie feels more contagion from Yuan weakness; antipodeans near 0.6150 and 0.6710 respectively. Euro pivots 1.0550 vs the Dollar and Yen pares back from sub-136.50 amidst Fib support nearby. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 6.9572 vs exp. 6.9586 (prev. 6.8942) Commodities WTI and Brent are a touch softer though have lifted off overnight USD 75.58/bbl and USD 82.38/bbl lows given the improvement in risk sentiment throughout the European morning. Though, the benchmarks are shy of USD 76.82/bbl and USD 83.60/bbl peaks with numerous geopolitical updates factoring into the overall indecisive price action. Russia halted supplies of oil to Poland via the Druzhba pipeline, according to PKN Orlen's CEO. Subsequently, Russia's Transneft says payment orders for oil shipments to Poland were not issued in the second half of February, no oil flows to Poland currently, via Tass; paperwork for oil supplies to Poland has not been completed. Crude oil deliveries via the Druzhba pipeline to the Czech Republic are running as planned, according to Mero. Spot gold is little changed with the yellow metal in a tight sub-10/oz range above the USD 1800/oz handle, taking its cue from the similarly cagey USD. Base metals are, broadly speaking, firmer following overnight weakness but remain in proximity to the troughs from Friday's session. Fixed Income Bonds remain in bear clutches after another failed recovery rally. Bunds probe new cycle low at 133.61 (session high 134.36) have fallen just shy of key resistance area, associated 10yr at a YTD peak of 2.57%. Gilts wane just two ticks below 101.00 and test bids/support into 100.00 and T-note hugs base of 111-07/16 range ahead of US data, Central Bank speakers and crunch UK-EU Brexit talks. Geopolitics Russia's Kremlin, on China's peace plan, says no conditions for peace 'at the moment' in Ukraine, according to AFP. G20 Finance Ministers meeting concluded without a joint communique as China and Russia opposed the draft with the two countries said to be upset by the use of a G20 platform to discuss political matters, according to sources cited by Reuters. India’s chair statement noted that there was a discussion about the war in Ukraine and it reiterated the G20 position on deploring in the strongest terms aggression by Russia, as well as reiterated the G20 position demanding Russia’s complete and unconditional withdrawal from Ukrainian territory. Russian President Putin said Russia has taken into account NATO’s nuclear potential and claimed that the west wants to liquidate Russia, according to TASS. Russian Wagner Group boss Prigozhin said his fighters captured the village of Yahinde which is north of Bakhmut, according to Reuters. US President Biden said on Friday that he is ruling out Ukraine’s request for F-16 aircraft for now but added they have to put Ukrainians in a position where they can make advances this spring and summer. Biden also said he doesn’t anticipate a major initiative on the part of China to provide weapons to Russia and that he hasn’t seen anything in the Chinese peace plan that would be beneficial for anyone but Russia, while he also suggested it is possible that Chinese President Xi did not know about the Chinese spy balloon, according to an ABC News interview. US National Security Adviser Sullivan said China has made the final decision regarding providing aid to Russia and has not taken the possibility of providing lethal aid to Russia off the table, while he noted the consequences have been made clear to China and warned there will be a real cost if China provides military assistance to Russia for the Ukraine war, according to an interview with ABC News. There were also comments from Republican lawmaker McCaul that China is thinking of sending drones and other lethal weapons. Belarus President Lukashenko will pay a state visit to China from February 28 to March 2. "The visit will serve as an opportunity for the two sides to further promote comprehensive cooperation", according to Global Times. Germany, France, and the UK are considering making concrete security guarantees to Ukraine as an incentive for Ukrainian President Zelensky to engage in peace talks with Russia, according to the WSJ. German Defence Minister Pistorius commented regarding the Chinese peace plan and stated that they will judge China by its actions, not its words, according to Reuters. US Event Calendar 08:30: Jan. Durable Goods Orders, est. -4.0%, prior 5.6% Jan. -Less Transportation, est. 0.1%, prior -0.2% Jan. Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, est. 0%, prior -0.6% Jan. Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, est. -0.1%, prior -0.1% 10:00: Jan. Pending Home Sales (MoM), est. 1.0%, prior 2.5% Jan. Pending Home Sales YoY, prior -34.3% 10:30: Feb. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. -9.2, prior -8.4 Central Bank Speakers 10:30: Fed’s Jefferson Discusses Inflation and the Dual Mandate DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap As we close out a tougher second month of the year than the first tomorrow night, Henry pointed out an interesting stat to me on Friday. January was the best January for the Global Bond Ag index this century whereas February so far is on course to be the worst February over the same period. The very strong financial market performance between mid-October and end-January was in our opinion based mostly around US terminal pricing being remarkably stable between 4.75-5.1%. In the previous 9-10 months it was constantly being repriced from around 1% to 5% causing chaos in the financial world. On Friday, US terminal closed at 5.4%, catching up to DB's street leading 5.6% forecast. Clearly this has been bubbling up since payrolls (Feb 3), the CPI revisions (Feb 10), CPI beat (Feb 14), retail sales beat (Feb 15), and even things like Manheim used prices spiking higher again in January and February. Last Friday's core PCE was another important piece of evidence with the 0.6% mom print above expectations of 0.4%. Even though the concern was that it would beat, this added fuel to the fire and markets still struggled to deal with the ramifications with 2yr, 10yr and terminal up +11.6bps, +6.8bps and +5.3bps to 4.814%, 3.943% and 5.40% respectively. 2yr yields are the highest since July 2007 and terminal the highest this cycle. For core US PCE, the 3m, 6m and 12m annualised numbers are now 4.8%, 5.1% and 4.7% and thus strongly hint at inflation stickiness. With this data it’s tough to rule out a return to 50bps hikes even if that’s not yet the base case. While that uncertainty is there, markets will stay on edge. In credit we downgraded our tactical bullishness in our "Credit: Rally ends soon" (Jan 30) note (link here) and suggested reducing exposure to dollar credit immediately. The biggest challenge though is when to officially run for the preverbal hills given we've had a long standing YE 23 target for HY of +860bps linked into our US recession call by year end. In the near-term we’re a little more relaxed on European credit. Indeed our credit team published a €HY update this morning looking at tight spreads in the face of growing fundamental vulnerabilities and the highest share of bonds rated B or worse in the last 10 years. However with supply unlikely to pick up materially, favourable technicals should keep spreads supported for now. Still, we think concerns about deteriorating credit metrics will eventually prevail and see €HY selling off in H2’23 alongside the US market when signs of a growth slowdown become even more tangible (see here for the full text). Linked into this view, the recent US data probably makes us more confident of a hard landing given the boom-and-bust nature of this cycle that has been increasingly clear step-by-step over the last 2-3 years. This trend first emerged with the extraordinarily excessive covid stimulus, which in turn led to an enormous spike in the money supply, which brought structural inflation, and was always going to require an immense amount of tightening to control. An immaculate disinflation and soft landing from here would defy all historical precedent. Time will tell if we're wrong and history needs to be rewritten but this feels a fairly straight forward US cycle to predict. For this week, with the current sensitivities over prices, all eyes will be on the flash February European CPI releases (France Tues, Germany Weds, Italy and EA Thurs) and labour market data released throughout the week. The CPI numbers follow Friday's upward revisions for the January report in the Euro Area, where core inflation was revised up a tenth to a new record of +5.3%. We also have the global PMIs (and US ISMs) with manufacturing on the first day of the month (Wednesday) and services (Friday). ECB speakers will have plenty of opportunity to reflect on the data with at least 8 appearances already scheduled for next week. For a more backward-looking assessment, markets will also have the ECB's account of the February meeting due Thursday to read through. Our own European economists upgraded their ECB call last week and now see two +50bps hikes in March/May followed by a final +25bps hike in June, which would imply a terminal of 3.75%, up from 3.25% previously (see full note here). Fed speakers are also prevalent as you'll see in the day-by-day week ahead. There are six FOMC voters and there is a lot for them to chew over at the moment, especially after Friday's PCE data. Outside of the ISMs, US data will revolve around consumer and manufacturing activity. That will include the Conference Board's consumer confidence index tomorrow, Chicago PMI (also tomorrow) and a host of regional central bank indices. Other notable indicators due include durable goods orders today and the advance goods trade balance tomorrow. Asian equity markets are trading lower this morning with the KOSPI (-1.19%) leading losses across the region while the Hang Seng (-0.75%), the CSI, (-0.21%) the Shanghai Composite (-0.12%) and the Nikkei (-0.19%) all trading in the red. In overnight trading, US stock futures are fairly flat alongside US yields. Earlier this morning, the government’s nominee for the Bank of Japan (BOJ) Governor, Kazuo Ueda in his speech to the parliament stressed the need to maintain the central bank’s ultra-loose policy to support the Japanese economy despite various market side-effects. Meanwhile, candidates for the BoJ deputy governor (Uchida and Himino) will appear for hearings in the Upper House tomorrow, following this week's Lower House hearings. Looking back on last week now, both equities and fixed income retreated as markets priced in further central bank hikes following mounting evidence that inflation was continuing to prove persistent. The selloff gathered pace on Friday, following the aforementioned US PCE inflation data surprising firmly to the upside, with headline PCE at +0.6% (vs +0.5% expected) month-on-month, and +4.7% (vs +4.3% expected) year-on-year. Further adding to the view that inflation is durable, core PCE inflation also came in above consensus, with the month-on-month print at +0.6% (vs +0.4% expected) whilst year-on-year came in at +4.7% (vs +4.3% expected). This data led markets to swiftly priced in a more aggressive price of rate hikes from the Fed. In particular, there was growing speculation that the Fed might step up their hikes to 50bps again, with a +30.3bps move priced into the next meeting in March, up from +27.5bps at the start of the week. US terminal rate timing is starting to be evenly balanced between July (5.400%) and September (5.401%), rather than the July peak we've had for several weeks. It's also at the highest level of the cycle. The pricing for the July meeting climbed up +11.8bps last week (+5.3bps on Friday), while the September meeting pricing rose +14.6bps last week (+6.9bps on Friday). Expectations also increased for rates remaining higher for longer, with the December meeting now implying a 5.28% rate. This was up +11.0bps on Friday and +21.6bps on the week – marking a fifth consecutive weekly increase. Renewed expectations of additional hikes by central banks triggered a sell-off in both US and European equities on Friday. The S&P 500 fell back -1.05% on Friday, finishing off the week down -2.67% and marking its worst weekly performance so far this year. The Nasdaq similarly retreated, down -3.33% last week (-1.69% on Friday), its largest weekly down move since mid-December. European equities fell back too, with the STOXX 600 retreating -1.42% last week (-1.04% on Friday). This sell-off was echoed across fixed income markets, with 10yr Treasury yields up +6.6bps on Friday and +12.8bps over the course of last week. 2yr Treasuries significantly underperformed, as yields rose +11.6bps on Friday and +19.7bps over the week, reaching their highest level since July 2007. It was a similar story in Europe, with the 2yr German yield up +11.7bps on Friday in their largest up move since December and hitting their highest level since October 2008. Over the course of the week, that left them up +15.3bps at 3.03%. In the meantime, 10yr bund yields rose +9.7bps last week (+5.9bps on Friday) to 2.54%, and the German 2s10s curve inverted to -50bps after it fell -5.6bps on Friday, which made up nearly the entirety of the -5.8bps flattening last week. Finally, commodity markets fell back most of last week before a rally in oil on Friday (WTI +1.23% & Brent +1.16% Friday) left WTI crude down just -0.03% on the week at $76.32/bbl and Brent crude up +0.19% at $82.16/bbl. On the other hand, metals saw continued selling on Friday, with copper futures falling back -3.81% overall (-2.64% on Friday), and nickel down -4.93% last week (-3.33% on Friday). Looking at the market more broadly, the Bloomberg Industrial Metals Index fell back -3.17% over the course of last week (-2.44% on Friday). All this likely down to some concerns that the Chinese reopening isn't quite as smooth and bouyant as hoped. Tyler Durden Mon, 02/27/2023 - 08:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 27th, 2023

Democratic Rep. Judy Chu, the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress, blasts a Texas GOP congressman after he questioned her loyalty to the US: "It is racist"

"If she doesn't realize what's going on then she's totally out of touch with one of her core constituencies," Rep. Gooden said of Chu on Fox News. California Democratic Rep. Judy Chu hit back at Texas GOP Rep. Lance Gooden after he responded to her criticism of a Republican effort to investigate Biden economic appointee Dominic Ng.AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite Judy Chu criticized Lance Gooden after he seemingly questioned her "loyalty" to the US on Fox News. Gooden called out Chu after she blasted GOP attempts to investigate Biden economic appointee Dominic Ng. Chu responded to Gooden, describing his remarks regarding her allegiance to the US as "racist." Rep. Judy Chu, the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress, on Thursday blasted Texas GOP Rep. Lance Gooden over recent statements that he made where he seemingly questioned her loyalty to the United States.During a Wednesday interview on Fox News, the third-term Gooden suggested that the California Democrat, who has served in the House since 2009, should be barred from accessing sensitive classified materials over her defense of Dominic Ng — the chairman and chief executive of the California-based East West Bank and President Joe Biden's appointee to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council.Several Republicans, including Gooden, have said that Ng needs to be investigated by the FBI after a Daily Caller investigative article was published alleging the banker had ties to a Chinese Communist Party front group.Gooden, while on the Fox News program "Jesse Watters Primetime," rebuked Chu, calling her "out of touch.""I question her either loyalty or competence," he said during the interview. "If she doesn't realize what's going on then she's totally out of touch with one of her core constituencies."Earlier this month, Chu, the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, released a joint statement with Reps. Ted Lieu and Mark Takano of California and Rep. Grace Meng of New York that condemned the GOP move.Gooden while on Fox News criticized Chu for issuing the statement, while also accusing her of being the "ringleader" behind the effort."I think she has drug along the other Chinese American members to sign this letter. But I do think she's the ringleader," Gooden said. "I'm really disappointed and shocked that someone like Judy Chu would have a security clearance and be entitled to confidential intelligence briefings until this is figured out."Chu and top Democratic lawmakers quickly slammed Gooden over his comments."Rep. Gooden's comments on Fox News questioning my loyalty to the USA is absolutely outrageous," Chu said in a statement. "It is based on false information spread by an extreme, right-wing website. Furthermore, it is racist. I very much doubt that he would be spreading these lies were I not of Chinese American descent."House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York also zeroed in on Gooden, needling him over his actions after the 2020 presidential election, when then-President Donald Trump sought to overturn now-President Joe Biden's electoral victory. In January 2021, Gooden voted against the certification of electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania in the 2020 election. Biden narrowly won both states over Trump, flipping them into the Democratic column, a point of contention for many Republicans who questioned the integrity of the results despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud."Lance Gooden's slanderous accusation of disloyalty against Rep. Chu is dangerous, unconscionable and xenophobic," Jeffries said in a statement. "Congressman Gooden appears to sympathize with violent insurrectionists and spreads big lies to the American people, having voted not to certify the election of President Joe Biden.""Look in the mirror, Lance. You have zero credibility," he added.Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, on Friday excoriated Gooden over his comments."At a time when anti-Asian hate continues to threaten communities, it's critical that we condemn these racist and xenophobic attacks immediately and hold our fellow colleagues accountable to rid our politics of such dangerous statements and hatred," she said in a statement.And Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a 2024 Senate candidate and former Intelligence Committee chairman who last month was removed from the panel by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California, also decried Gooden's comments."Questioning @RepJudyChu's loyalty to the United States is xenophobic and racist," Schiff tweeted. "Shame on you, @LanceGooden. And on @FoxNews for airing such hate. We cannot allow anti-Asian bigotry to go without condemnation."Rep. Gooden accused Democrats of bringing up race after his criticism of Rep. Chu.Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesAll eyes on ChinaGooden hit back at the Democratic charges, accusing Chu and Jeffries of inserting race into the discussion."Rather than following facts that indicate the presence of Chinese espionage, Chu and Jeffries are playing the race card in a sick display of disloyalty to our nation," Gooden remarked in an email.During his Fox News interview, Gooden also voiced his frustration over the Democratic response to the GOP request for a probe into Ng."We're standing up to communist China and these Democrats' first reaction is to come to their defense and call us all racists," Gooden said at the time.The jockeying among both parties comes as many lawmakers are pushing for a firm line against China, especially after a spy balloon operated by the Chinese traversed the interior of the United States before being taken down over the Atlantic Ocean.While Biden and top military officials in his administration were closely monitoring the balloon, with the president even remarking that he sought to take down the object shortly after he found out about its existence, the commander-in-chief was ultimately advised that it would be safer to shoot down the balloon over water.Many Republican lawmakers immediately launched a wave of criticism against Biden, stating that the balloon should have immediately been taken down.But Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the party's 2012 presidential nominee, defended the administration's stance while speaking with CNN earlier this month after a congressional briefing on the matter."I believe that the administration, the president, our military and intelligence agencies, acted skillfully and with care," he told the network. "At the same time, their capabilities are extraordinarily impressive."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 25th, 2023